Preterite vs. Imperfect Mrs. O. Pacheco World Language Spanish III
Preteritevs Imperfect Spanish has two past tenses: preterite and imperfect. Most verbs can be put into either tense, depending upon the meaning. Generally speaking, the preterite is used for actions in the past that are seen as completed. Use of the preterite tense implies that the past action had a definite beginning and definite end. Note: the nosotros form is the same both in present and preterite tenses. But we can usually tell if someone is referring to the past or present from the context.
El Pretérito: • is a past tense (“-ed”) • talks about what happened • is a completed action I went to the store. I bought a shirt. I paid in cash.
The stem for regular verbs in the pretérito is the infinitive stem. Tomar tom- Hablar habl- Comer com- Beber beb- Abrir abr- Salir sal-
-é -aste -ó -amos -asteis -aron Pretérito endings for -ar verbs are:
-í -iste -ió -imos -isteis -ieron Pretérito endings for –er / -ir verbs are:
REMEMBER: • accents on the “yo” form and the “él / ella / Ud.” form • -ar / -ir “nosotros” form is the same in present and pretérito
Verbs ending in -car, -gar, and-zar have a spelling change in the “yo” form of the pretérito. Unos Irregulares: buscar tocar practicar pagar jugar llegar almorzar empezar comenzar
The “yo” form of the pretérito changes to conserve the sound of the infinitive: -car -gar -zar “-qué” “-gué” “-cé” “tocé” “jugé” “rezé”
busqué buscaste buscó buscamos buscasteis buscaron buscar (-carverbs) Por ejemplo:
pagué pagaste pagó pagamos pagasteis pagaron pagar (-garverbs) Por ejemplo:
almorcé almorzaste almorzó almorzamos almorzasteis almorzaron almorzar (-zarverbs) Por ejemplo:
Irregular Preterite forms There are a fair number of verbs with irregular conjugation forms in the Preterite. These Irregular forms in the Preterite are said to have "radical" changes, that is, vowel and consonant changes in the root (or stem of the verb.) Furthermore, these changes occur in all of the conjugations (including the nosotros form.) These Irregular preterite changes are NOT for orthographic (spelling) reasons (like the verbs ending in -Car, -Gar and -Zar) nor are the changes in vowels similar to regular stem-changing verbs which affect certain -Ir conjugations in the Preterite. Verbs which have an Irregular Preterite form have their own conjugation - different from the established -Ar, -Er/-Ir Preterite conjugation pattern.
Irregular changes • All Verbs with grossly irregular changes in the Preterite follow this conjugation: • -Ar, -Er, -Ir Irregular Verbs • Yo-e • Tú-iste • Él, ella, usted-o • Nosotros-imos • Ellos, ellas, ustedes -ieron* • * * Verbs with a "J" at the end of the stem drop the "i" and just use: -eron • Notice that none of these conjugation endings have accent marks!
Some Common Irregular verbs in the Preterite: • Andar-Anduve anduviste anduvo anduvimos anduvieron • Conducir*-Conduje condujiste condujo condujimos condujeron • Decir*-Dije dijiste dijo dijimos dijeron • Estar-Estuve estuviste estuvo estuvimos estuvieron • Hacer-Hice hiciste hizo hicimos hicieron • Poner-Puse pusiste puso pusimos pusieron • Poder-Pude pudiste pudo pudimos pudieron • Querer-Quise quisiste quiso quisimos quisieron • Saber-Supe supiste supo supimos supieron • Tener-Tuve tuviste tuvo tuvimos tuvieron • Traer*-Traje trajiste trajo trajimos trajeron • Venir-vine viniste vino vinimos vinieron
Orthographic Changes • Verbs that end in -gar change g to gu • Verbs that end in -car change c to qu • Verbs that end in -zar change z to c • Verbs that end in -aer, -eer, -oír, -oer, and uir change ió to yó and ieron to yeron • Verbs that end in -ucir are irregular and conjugated as follows: • Producir, produje, produjiste, produjo, produjimos, produjisteis, produjeron
Other verbs which are irregular in the Preterite • Dar-di diste dio dimos dieron • Dar is often humorously referred to as the "cross-dressing" verb, because in the Preterite Dar takes on the -Er/-Ir preterite verb endings rather than -Ar verb endings. • Ver-vi viste vio vimos vieron • Verbs with only 2 or 3 letters, such as Dar, Ser, Ir and Ver, also do not wear accent marks in the Preterite. • Remember that Spanish only uses accent marks when required for pronunciation or differentiation.
Sharing same forms • Ir & Ser-fui fuiste fue fuimos fueron • Notice that Ir and Ser share the same forms in the Preterite. This is not as confusing as it may appear. Since Ser refers to existence and identification, it is nearly impossible to use this in the Preterite which handles only completed actions. This preterite conjugation form will nearly always be Ir (an action verb) rather than Ser (a descriptive verb) which is usually conjugated in the Imperfect Past tense. • Also the context of a sentence or a conversation will let you know which is being used. For example: • Fui al supermercado clearly means "I went to the supermarket," not *"I was to the supermarket."
Imperfect The imperfect is used for past actions that are not seen as completed. Use of the imperfect tense implies that the past action did not have a definite beginning or a definite end.
Imperfect (-ar) To conjugate regular -ar verbs in the imperfect, simply drop the ending (-ar) and add one of the following: -aba -abas -aba -ábamos -abais -aban
Imperfect (-er & -ir) To conjugate regular -er and -ir verbs in the imperfect, simply drop the ending (-er or -ir) and add one of the following: -ía -ías -ía -íamos -íais -ían
The imperfect is used for actions that were repeated habitually. Almorzábamos juntos todos los días.We would lunch together every day. Las señoras siempre charlaban por las mañanas.The ladies would always chat in the mornings.
The imperfect is used for actions that "set the stage" for another action. Yo leía cuando entró mi papá.I was reading when my papa entered. (note that "entered" is preterite)
The imperfect is used for telling time and stating one's age. Eran las siete de la noche.It was seven o'clock at night. La niña tenía cinco años.The little girl was five years old.
Imperfect • Remember, the imperfect is used for past actions that are not seen as completed. Use of the imperfect tense implies that the past action did not have a definite beginning or a definite end. The imperfect tells when -- in general, an action occurred. • Good news! There are only three irregular verbs in the imperfect. You must simply memorize them.
Review some of the rules for using the imperfect: The imperfect is used for actions that were repeated habitually. The imperfect is used for actions that "set the stage" for another action. The imperfect is used for telling time and stating one's age.
Imperfect vs. Preterite II • Most verbs can be put into either tense, depending upon the meaning. The preterite tells us specifically when an action took place. The imperfect tells us in general when an action took place. • Some words and phrases indicate specific time frames, and therefore signal the use of the preterite. • For example: ayer (yesterday), anteayer (the day before yesterday), anoche (last night), desde el primer momento (from the first moment), durante dos siglos (for two centuries), el otrodía (the other day), en esemomento (at that moment), entonces (then), estamañana (this morning), estatarde (this afternoon) ,la semanapasada (last week), el mespasado (last month), el añopasado (last year), hace dos días, años (two days, years ago), ayerpor la mañana (yesterday morning), ayerpor la tarde (yesterday afternoon)…
Other words and phrases indicate repetitive, vague or non-specific time frames, and therefore signal the use of the imperfect: a menudo (often), a veces (sometimes), cadadía (every day), cadasemana (every week), cadames (every month), cadaaño (every year), con frecuencia (frequently), de vez en cuando (from time to time), en aquellaépoca (at that time), frecuentemente (frequently), generalmente (usually), muchasveces (many times), mucho (a lot), nunca (never), por un rato (for awhile), siempre (always), tantasveces (so many times), todaslassemanas (every week), todos los días (every day), todo el tiempo (all the time), variasveces (several times)…
Imperfect (clues) • One way to determine if a verb is actually the imperfect is to try substituting one of the following: • was/were ...ing • used to ... • would (meaning used to) ... • The following examples show how to use this substitution test for the imperfect: • worked in the agency during the day.I was working in the agency during the day. • I visited my grandmother every day.I used to visit my grandmother every day. • Every afternoon I took a nap.Every afternoon I would take a nap. • One does not normally think of a general mental state or physical sensations as having a definite beginning or end, and so they are usually expressed in the imperfect. • Ramón teníamiedo de hablar en público.Ramón was afraid to speak in public. • Yocreíaque Juan podíahacerlo.I thought that Juan could do it. • Me gustaba el coche.I liked the car. (The car was pleasing to me.) • The imperfect is used to describe how things were or what things were like. Use the imperfect when describing the characteristics of people, things or conditions. • Era un muchachomuyinteligente.He was a very intelligent boy. • Era unaseñoritamuyguapa.She was a beautiful young lady. • Las ventanasestabanabiertas.The windows were open. • La casa era blanca.The house was white.
Preteritevs Imperfect III • The preterite is used for actions that are viewed as completed, while the imperfect is used for actions that did not have a definite beginning or a definite end. • Estudié dos horas. • I studied two hours.(completed action) • Yoestudiaba antes de los exámenes. • I used to study before the tests.(no definite beginning or end) • Some verbs actually change meaning, depending upon whether they are used in the preterite or the imperfect. This is not surprising, since the difference in meaning can be traced back to the different way in which these two past tenses are used. • conocer • Querer • no querer • saber • Poder • tener
Examples Conocer Querer • Conocí a Juan hace cinco años. • I met Juan five years ago.(completed action) • En aquella época conocíamos muy bien la ciudad. • At that time we knew the city very well.(no definite beginning or end) • María quiso comprar la casa. • Maria tried to buy the house.(completed action) • Juan quería comprar la casa. • Juan wanted to buy the house.(no definite beginning or end)
Examples No querer Saber • María no quiso comprar la casa. • Maria refused to buy the house.(completed action) • Juan no quería comprar la casa. • Juan did not want to buy the house.(no definite beginning or end) • María lo supo ayer. • Maria found out yesterday.(completed action) • Juan sabía que María venía. • Juan knew that Maria was coming.(no definite beginning or end)
Examples Poder Tener • Maríapudolevantar la mesa. • Maria succeeded in lifting the table.(completed action) • Juan podíaparticipar en la manifestación. • Juan was able to participate in the demonstration.(no definite beginning or end) • María tuvo una carta de su mamá. • Maria received a letter from her mom.(completed action) • Juan tenía un coche nuevo. • Juan used to have a new car.(no definite beginning or end)
Lets review! The preterite is used in the following situations: The imperfect is used in the following situations: • For actions that can be viewed as single events • For actions that were repeated a specific number of times • For actions that occurred during a specific period of time • For actions that were part of a chain of events • To state the beginning or the end of an action • For actions that were repeated habitually • For actions that "set the stage" for another past action • For telling time • For stating one's age • For mental states (usually) • For physical sensations (usually) • To describe the characteristics of people, things or conditions
¡Vamos a Practicar!Fill each blank with the correct form of the verb in parenthesis in the preterite or the imperfect. Cuando yo _____________________ (ser) joven, yo siempre _____________________ (visitar) a mis abuelos en la costa oeste de Puerto Rico. Mis abuelos _____________________ (vivir) en una pequeña casa que _____________________ (estar) enfrente de una de las playas más bonitas en la isla. Cada vez que yo _____________________ (llegar) mis abuelos _____________________ (hacer) lo mismo: _____________________ (preparar) una comida grande y me _____________________ (preguntar) como las cosas me _____________________ (ir) en la escuela. Yo _____________________ (ir) a su casa por siete veranos consecutivos, hasta que ellos _____________________ (decidir) mudarse a otra parte de la isla porque le _____________________ (tener) miedo a las olas que a veces _____________________ (ser) un poco grandes.