Use Past Tense in Spanish

Edited by Thor, Alexander Avdeev, Eng, Anonymous

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Preterite Tense

Hello! Welcome to VisiHow and to the series of videos on the Spanish language! In this video, we are going to show you how to use the preterite tense, which is one of the two simple past tenses in Spanish: preterite and imperfect. In Spanish, there are two simple tenses to talk about the past. Understanding when to use which tense can be one of the hardest aspects to learning Spanish. In this video, we are going to see how to conjugate and use regular verbs in the preterite form.

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Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas0.jpg

Steps

  1. 1
    To conjugate irregular verbs, we have to learn them individually.
    Fortunately, the majority of verbs are regular.
    Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas52 588923.jpg
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  2. 2
    To conjugate regular "-ar" verbs take out the "ar" at the end and replace it with the following endings (we are going to use "hablar" ("to speak") with the root "habl"):
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    • hablé: I spoke; this is in the past;
      if we add "é", then it means "I";
    • hablaste: you spoke (informal);
      if we add "aste" to the "ar" verb (we take out "ar" and add "aste"), then it means that "you spoke";
    • habló: he, she, you spoke (formal);
    • hablamos: we spoke;
      "hablamos" is the same as the present tense, so in English we would say, "you spoke", and, "we speak"; but in Spanish, it is the same: "hablamos" and "hablamos";
    • hablasteis: you (plural) spoke;
      if we add "asteis", it means "you (plural) spoke";
    • hablaron: they spoke (also, "you" (plural, formal)).
      Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas52 588923.jpg
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  3. 3
    When to use the preterite?
    The preterite tense is used to talk about actions that are seen as completed, as they have definite beginnings and ends. These can be single events, actions that are part of a chain, or actions that were repeated a specific number of times.
    Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas161 286855.jpg
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  4. 4
    Some words are very useful indicators as to when to use the preterite:
    • una vez: once;
    • ayer: yesterday;
    • anoche: last night.
      These phrases indicate a specific moment in the past and signal the use of the preterite tense. Those words indicate a moment in time, and they are singular.
    • "Ayer hablé a Juan" is "Yesterday, I spoke to Juan".
    • "Anoche fui al cine" is "Last night, I went to the cinema".
      Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas170 395619.jpg
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  5. 5
    How to use both the preterite and the imperfect tenses in the same sentence?
    We have to remember that the preterite refers to a completed action in the past, while the imperfect refers to an action in an unspecific time.
    Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas222 407492.jpg
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  6. 6
    How would we translate the following sentence, and which tense would we use for the two past actions?
    • I was eating when the phone rang.
      We have two actions. The first action is "eating" and has no clear beginning or end; therefore, it is imperfect. The second action is the ringing of the phone that is a completed action (preterite).
    • "Estaba comiendo cuando el teléfono sonó": "I was eating when the telephone rang".
      "Eating" has unspecified time, just general time when someone was eating. We do not know for how long we were eating or the time frame of eating. Then, we have "rang", which is a specific action that happened as a general action. It happened distinctly.
      Use past tense in Spanish PART-1-2 Preterit Tense.mp4-canvas269 65944.jpg
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Now, let's try to conjugate some verbs in the past tenses and make some sentences with the verbs. You can leave these in the comment section below to share them with us. We'd love that. We will see how well you do it, and how inspired you are by this video. You can also find other tutorials on Spanish by searching for VisiHow videos. You can do that, and we'll help you to learn even more about the Spanish language. This concludes the tutorial on how to use the preterite tense in the Spanish language. If you have any questions, comments, or queries about this video or about the process you have witnessed in the video, then please leave them in the comment section below. We shall answer them for you.

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Video: Use Past Tense in Spanish Preterite Tense

Imperfect Tense

Hello! Welcome to VisiHow and to the series of videos on the Spanish language! In this video, we are going to show you how to use the imperfect tense, which is one of the two simple past tenses in Spanish. In Spanish, there are two simple tenses to talk about the past. Understanding when to use which tense can be one of the hardest aspects to learning Spanish. In this video, we are going to see how to conjugate and use regular verbs in the imperfect form.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas26 094706.jpg

Steps

  1. 1
    To conjugate irregular verbs, we have to learn them individually.
    Fortunately, the majority of verbs are regular. To conjugate regular verbs in the imperfect tense, we have to follow the simple rules and formula from the next steps.
    Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas37 731324.jpg
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  2. 2
    To conjugate regular "-ar" verbs take out the "ar" at the end and replace it with the following endings (we are going to use "hablar" ("to speak")):
    • hablaba: I was speaking; I used to speak;
      we add "aba" here;
    • hablabas: you were speaking; you used to speak (informal);
    • hablaba: he was speaking; she was speaking; you were speaking (formal); he, she, or you used to speak;
      the ending is the same as with "I was speaking". In Spanish, this inflexion is ambiguous; but, normally, we will be able to understand which context is being used by sentence syntax;
    • hablaábamos: we were speaking; we used to speak;
      "ábamos" means "we";
    • hablaabais: you (plural) were speaking; you (plural) used to speak;
    • hablaaban: they were speaking; they used to speak;
      "aban" means "they".
      Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas64 709935.jpg
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  3. 3
    When to use the imperfect?
    Generally, the tense is used for actions in the past that do not have a definite end and are yet to be completed. They refer to a general time in the past. They can be used for habitual actions, for time and dates in the past, for telling a person's age in the past, to describe people's characteristics in the past, and to communicate mental and physical states in the past. It is also used when in English we would say, "Used to" (e.g., "I used to go to the park every weekend").
    Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas161 816435.jpg
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  4. 4
    Some words are very useful indicators as to when to use the imperfect:
    • a vices: sometimes;
    • nunca: never;
    • mucho: a lot.
      These words indicate a repeated, general, habitual, or unspecified moment in the past. They signal the use of the imperfect tense.
    • "Las chicas hablaron" is "The girls were talking".
      There is no clear start or end, the girls have just been talking in general. We don't know when, for how long, and why they were talking. They are just talking in some unspecified moment in time.
    • "Cuando era niño nunca jugaba con animales" is "When I was a child, I never played with animals".
      This is a repeated action. This is something about the past or something that we did or did not do regularly.
      Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas192 439333.jpg
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  5. 5
    How to use both the preterite and the imperfect tenses in the same sentence?
    We have to remember that the preterite refers to a completed action in the past, while the imperfect refers to an action in an unspecific time.
    Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas265 938755.jpg
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  6. 6
    How would we translate the following sentence, and which tense would we use for the two past actions?
    • I was eating when the phone rang.
      We have two actions. The first action is "eating" and has no clear beginning or end (imperfect). The second action is the ringing of the phone that is a completed action (preterite).
    • "Estaba comiendo cuando el teléfono sonó": "I was eating when the telephone rang".
      "Eating" has unspecified time, just general time when someone was eating. We do not know for how long we were eating or the time frame of eating. Then, we have "rang", which is a specific action that happened as a general action. We were eating at some unspecified time when the telephone rang.
      Use past tense in Spanish PART-2-2 Imperfect Tense.MP4.mp4-canvas281 348245.jpg
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Now, let's try to conjugate some verbs in the past tenses and make some sentences with the verbs. You can leave these in the comment section below to share them with us. We'd love that. We will see how you do it, and how inspired you are by this video. You can also find links to the other videos, or you can find the tutorials by yourself by searching for VisiHow videos on Spanish. You can do that, and we'll help you to learn even more about the Spanish language. This concludes the tutorial on how to use the imperfect tense in the Spanish language. If you have any questions, comments, or queries about this video or about the process you have witnessed in the video, then please leave them in the comment section below. We shall answer them for you.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Video: Use Past Tense in Spanish Imperfect Tense

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Recent edits by: Eng, Alexander Avdeev, Thor

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