Pretérito indefinido vs Pretérito imperfecto (English version)

USE SPANISH PAST TENSES PROPERLY

Spanish past tenses are one of the most complicated topics to use properly for beginners and pre-intermediate students. I always find the same problem with my students, people don’t know how to use Spanish past tenses because they learn incorrect things about that.

Many times I listen to»I have to use Spanish past Tenses with finished actions» but, honestly, that is very confused because in Spanish, every past is finished.

If you are one of the thousands students that are thinking in that incorrect way, you are lucky to find us! In this guide, we are going to teach every single thing that you need to learn properly how to use Spanish past tenses to tell any past story and, of course, it won’t be the common definitions and tips.

GENERAL VISION ABOUT SPANISH PAST TENSES  

In general, we use pretérito imperfecto and pretérito indefinido in these cases:

IMPERFECTO INDEFINIDO
For repeated actions or habits in the past.
Entrenaba todos los días para la
maratón
The action took place in a point in the past.
El año pasado visité Sevilla
For describing situations, people, views, etc. – in the past.
Era verano y hacía calor.
For past actions which move forward the story.
Preguntamos a un local y nos acompañó hasta la estación.

HOW YOU CAN TELL STORIES IN THE PAST

Forget the idea that you have to use pretérito indefinido for finished actions in the past. In Spanish, the past always is past.

The pretérito indefinido move forward the story to the present.

Model of story in the past:
1.- Me levanté
2.- Me duché y desayuné
3.- llegúe al aeropuerto 
4.- Cogí el avión. 

We are going to visualize the idea with this timeline:

spanish past tenses

Alright, now, with  pretérito imperfecto we can describe the situationn. The story stops and we describe the situation around us. Here the example:

Model of story in the past:
1.- Me levanté y estaba muy cansado
2.- Me duché y desayuné
3.- llegúe al aeropuerto y había mucha gente
4.- Cogí el aviónera muy grande y había mucho espacio entre los asientos.  

We are going to visualize the idea with this timeline:

PAST >>
>>Me levanté
Stop the story and describe: y estaba muy cansado
>>llegúe al aeropuerto
Stop the story and describe: y había mucha gente 
>> Cogí el avión
Stop the story and describe:
era muy grande y había mucho espacio entre los asientos.
>>PRESENT


MARCADORES TEMPORALES WITH IMPERFECTO:

Siempre, todos los (días, sábados), cuando era joven, cada vez que, mientras.

MARCADORES TEMPORALES WITH INDEFINIDO:

Ayer, la semana pasada, el mes pasado, el año pasado, en 2010, el día de mi
graduación…

Example: 

Visité Madrid por primera vez en 2005.  Era verano y hacía mucho calor.
The action took place in a specific moment(en 2005) We describe the weather of that summer

 

If you want to practice your Spanish listening with this grammar point, you can find audios with Preterito Indefinido and Preterito Imperfecto. 

Also, if you want to practice this grammar point with a professional teacher, check our Spanish lessons online. 

 

 

This entry was posted in Gramática A2, Gramática B1. Bookmark the permalink.


*