MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

297 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

11 months ago

Answered by Sebastian, an A Level Spanish tutor with MyTutor

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

51 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£22 /hr

Irini P.

Degree: French and Spanish-Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Spanish, French+ 2 more

Spanish
French
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature

“Budding linguist at Durham University, here to help you achieve perfection!”

£20 /hr

Callum S.

Degree: Modern Languages and Cultures (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Spanish, French

Spanish
French

“About Me Hi! My name is Callum, I am 20, I am from Belfast but I am currently in second year at Durham University studying Modern Languages and Cultures (French and Spanish). Having had opportunities to live and work in both France an...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Olivia C.

Degree: Spanish and Italian (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Spanish, French

Spanish
French

“About me: I am a second year at Exeter University studying Modern Languages (Spanish and beginner's Italian). I've always loved languages and have spent time in both Spain and France on work experience schemes, as well as many a sunny...”

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

When should you use the subjunctive?

When is the subjunctive used in Spanish?

How do you form the imperfect subjunctive?

Imperfect or Preterite?

View A Level Spanish tutors

Cookies:

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

mtw:mercury1:status:ok