MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

755 views

What is the difference between the simple past (preterite) and the imperfect tense?

Spanish, unlike English, has two different past tenses, the simple past, or preterite, and the imperfect. The two have different meanings and are conjugated differently.

A verb in the simple past means that an action happened at a fixed period of time. The action is completed and it all happened in the past. For example, "Yo fui al cine" (I went to the cinema) or "Él habló con Pablo ayer" (He spoke with Pablo yesterday). Generally, if you see expressions of time, such as "ayer", "la semana pasada", etc., the sentence will use a simple past.

A verb in the imperfect is something that happens in the past, not at any particular point in time, or habitually over time. Many times, this can be translated into English as "used to", but not always. This tense is used to set the scene and describe how something was. For example, "Cuando vivía, era profesor" (When he lived, he was a teacher) or "Mi madre siempre me decía que tenía que comer las verduras" (My mother always told me that I had to eat my vegetables).

Often times you will see the two past tenses in the same sentence. The imperfect will set the scene and the simple past will tell you what happens in that moment. This will happen a lot in stories. For example, "Mientras hablábamos sobre algo importante, mi hermano nos interrumpió" (While we were talking about something important, my brother interrupted us). The first verb is setting the scene generally, and the second one describes an action that happened right then and there and was completed. This sort of sentence is good for helping you remember the difference.

Sebastian B. A Level Spanish tutor, GCSE Spanish tutor, IB Spanish tutor

2 years ago

Answered by Sebastian, an A Level Spanish tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

75 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Emily E.

Degree: BA French & Spanish (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered:Spanish, Geography+ 3 more

Spanish
Geography
French
Drama
-Personal Statements-

“Hello! My name is Emily and I’m a third year French and Spanish student at the University of Bristol. Languages are a huge passion of mine, and I...”

MyTutor guarantee

£22 /hr

Beth C.

Degree: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic and Spanish) (Bachelors) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered:Spanish, History+ 6 more

Spanish
History
French
English Literature
Arabic
-Personal Statements-
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“A kind and patient tutor studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge”

£26 /hr

Yasmine A.

Degree: Spanish and Management (Bachelors) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered:Spanish, French+ 2 more

Spanish
French
English
-Personal Statements-

“Hi! My name is Yasmine, I am an enthusiastic linguist, and I hope to instill my passion for languages in my students! ”

About the author

Sebastian B.

Currently unavailable: for new students

Degree: German and Spanish (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered:Spanish

Spanish

“About Me ¡Hola! I am a languages (Spanish and German) student at the University of Bristol. I absolutely love langauges because they allow you tocommunicate with new people, explore new places, access new ideas, and get a new perspect...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Sebastian

What are the best ways to practise Spanish at home if no one speaks it?

What is the difference between the simple past (preterite) and the imperfect tense?

When do I need to put an accent (pronunciation rules)?

Other A Level Spanish questions

Why is it yo ME llamo and not yo llamo?

Why does Spanish allow the double negative?

How do I use the imperfect subjunctive in an 'if' statement.

How do I use the subjunctive tense?

View A Level Spanish tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok