MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

423 views

Imperfect or Preterite?

One of the things people find the hardest when learning languages is not forming the tenses but when to use the preterite or imperfect when talking about events which happened in the past. The most important thing to remember is that if the event was a one time occurance and is now finished, the preterite is used. If you are talking about an event which regularly happened in the past, the imperfect is needed.

 

1. The Preterite

- Used for events that took place in the past and are now complete.
- Describes actions or occurrences that took place and were completed in the past:
   E.G. Me levanté, me lavé y salí. (I got up, I washed and went out)
           Nicolás me llamó cinco veces anoche. (Nicholas called me five times last night)

- Also refers to states of affairs that lasted during specified (possibly very long) time limits in the past and have now ended. * Often the prepositions durante or hasta signal this usage.
   E.G. Felipe González fue presidente del gobierno durante nueve años. (Felipe was president of the government for nine years.)
           Ella se quedó allí hasta el lunes por la mañana. (She stayed there until Monday morning.)

 

2. The imperfect tense

- Describes actions/events that were in progress in the past (was-ing or were-ing)
- Describes actions/events that were habitual or customary in the past (used to).
- Beginning and end of these occurrences is unspecified.

   E.G. Alberto y Juan se reían. (Alberto and Juan were laughing.)
           Me caí mientras bajaba la escalera. (I felt whilst I was going down the stairs)
           Ibamos todos los jueves al cine. (We used to go to the cinema every Thursday.)

 

Now, try and do these examples yourself:
1. María used to work at Zara.
2. 
He always arrived late
3.
 We frequently travelled first class (en primera clase.)
4. I was sleeping when he arrived.
5. We didn't want to go to the shop.

 

I hope this makes the differentiaion clearer. After a lot of practice, both tenses will come naturally without too much thought!

Lois J. GCSE Spanish tutor, A Level Spanish tutor, GCSE French tutor,...

2 years ago

Answered by Lois, an A Level Spanish tutor with MyTutor


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

74 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Leopold T.

Degree: Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (Masters) - Edinburgh University

Subjects offered: Spanish, Mandarin+ 1 more

Spanish
Mandarin
French

“Born a Franco-American in the United States, and having lived in five countries to this day, I am a trilingual student who is passionate about technology and design, motivated and serious. My fluency in English, French, and Spanish add...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Henry P.

Degree: BA MODERN LANGUAGES (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: Spanish

Spanish

“From a young age I have been interested in foreign languages and cultures, which in recent years culminated in travels through Spain, Italy and Europe. I was a keen rugby player and captained my team in my final school year. At univer...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Hitesh R.

Degree: LAW WITH SPANISH LAW (Bachelors) - Sheffield University

Subjects offered: Spanish, -Personal Statements-

Spanish
-Personal Statements-

“Being a student is tough, but being a student with multilinguial skills is even tougher. Born and brought up in Spain, I know how hard it is for students to speak two different languages. But it's definetely not impossible. I believe ...”

MyTutor guarantee

About the author

Lois J.

Currently unavailable: no new students

Degree: Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Newcastle University

Subjects offered: Spanish, French

Spanish
French

“Hi! I'm Lois, a first year Newcastle student. I love languages and will help in any way I can to make sure you do too!”

You may also like...

Other A Level Spanish questions

What is the difference between por and para?

How do I know when to use the subjunctive?

Help! How do I learn all the grammar, especially irregulars?

Why does Spanish allow the double negative?

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