When learning past tenses, Preterite vs Imperfect is a question that often causes a few problems for students learning Spanish verbs, and knowing which of these two past tenses to use, and when, can certainly be confusing. However, the following guidelines will provide you with a clear idea as to which tense, preterite or imperfect, should be used.
The Preterite Tense in Spanish
The preterite tense, sometimes referred to as the ”past historic, is used to explain completed actions in the past and will tell you what happened or, what somebody did at a particular time
- Conduje el coche – I drove the car
- Cerré la ventana – I closed the window
The Spanish Imperfect Tense
The imperfect tense tells us what was going on, who was doing it or, who used to do it, over an indefinite period of time, with no beginning and no end.
- Juan compraba el periódico todos los días – Juan used to buy the newspaper every day.
- El hombre vendía coches – The man was selling cars.
Obviously, getting past the preterit vs imperfect issue is a lot easier when you have tools that will help you learn each tense well, in particular the preterit which has a high number of verbs that are irregular in this tense.
One such tool is called the Verbarrator, a recently developed downloadable software program that has had a remarkable impact on how students learn Spanish verbs, helping them to do so much more easily and much more quickly than ever before.
It’s worth checking out… The Verbarrator
For more information on using the preterite and imperfect in Spanish the links below will be of help.