The Spanish Past

In response to Talking about the Past

The Spanish language has two ways to talk in the past tense:  the preterite and the imperfect.  The verb forms are simple to learn, but distinguishing between the two can be tricky.  The preterite is used for completed actions in the past, or things that happened in a specific amount of time.  The imperfect is used for ongoing actions, descriptions of events, and feelings.

The really tricky part is mixing them together.  It’s easy to get confused when talking about an event and then describing that same event.  I’m never quite sure which form to use.

I can say that reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish has helped me with this a bit.  It’s helped me with all the verb tenses, actually.  And believe me, there are a lot of them.  It almost seems like everything is a verb tense when it comes to Spanish.

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4 Replies to “The Spanish Past”

  1. That’s really interesting, it reminds me of French which has the passé composé and l’imparfait. The passé composé is easy enough, but I find it hard to know when to use the imparfait. It seems similar to the Spanish imperfect, mainly used for ongoing actions (like the English past continuous), but there are a few cases where it’s used differently.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the same for me. In school i didn’t know much about English tenses so could look at the passé composé and imparfait on their own terms. But then I learned about the tenses in English when I trained to be a teacher, and got the rules about how they work stuck in my head. Then when I went back to French, it was very annoying because the imparfait doesn’t quite match up with the past continuous.

        Liked by 1 person

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