Archive for preterite

Preterite vs Imperfect in Spanish

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.

Spanish Preterite – How to Conjugate the Preterite Tense in Spanish

The Spanish preterite is a past tense consisting of one word, compared with the Perfect which has two, the auxiliary verb and the past participle, here are the essential aspects of the Spanish preterite.

  • It is firstly a tense in one word both in Spanish and in English
  • It describes a single, completed action in the past: for example, ‘I said‘, ‘Paul spoke‘, ‘we ate‘ and so on.
  • What it is important to remember is it can be used in conversation just as well as in the narrative, which is the part outside the dialogue describing past actions.

Here are the endings for the Spanish preterite for each of the three groups of verbs; ar, er and ir.

Hablarto speak

yo hablé I spoke
hablaste You spoke
él, ella, usted habló He/She/You spoke
nosotros/as hablamos We spoke
vosotros/as hablastais You spoke
ellos, ellas, ustedes hablaron They/You spoke

Comerto eat

yo comí I ate
comiste You ate
él, ella, usted com He/She/You ate
nosotros/as comimos We ate
vosotros/as comisteis You ate
ellos, ellas, ustedes comieron They/You ate

Vivirto live

yo viví I lived
viviste You lived
él, ella, usted viv He/She/You lived
nosotros/as vivimos We lived
vosotros/as vivisteis You lived
ellos, ellas, ustedes vivieron They/You lived

The biggest problem with learning the Spanish preterite is the large number of irregular verbs that must be mastered. The most important and most commonly used of these irregular verbs are dar, estar, haber, hacer, poder, poner, querer, saber, tener, venir, ser, ir and decir.

Learning each of the conjugations for each of these verbs is not going to be easy but… a verb training tool, such as the Verbarrator, will not only provide you with the best possible help but it will also enable you to learn verb conjugation so much faster than if you were using traditional methods of study.

Take your first step towards mastering Spanish verb conjugation and check out this Verbarrator review, and you will then see how you and your studies can benefit greatly from using it.

How to Conjugate Decir Preterite Tense

DECIR is an irregular stem changing Spanish verb.

The conjugation table below shows Decir preterite conjugation clearly with the stem of Decir, DECchanging to DIJ in all forms.

Decir Preterite Conjugation

yo dije I came
dijiste You came
él, ella, usted dijo He/She/You came
nosotros/as dijimos We came
vosotros/as dijisteis You came
ellos, ellas, ustedes dijieron They/You came

Conjugation of Venir Preterite Tense

VENIR which means ‘to come‘ in Spanish is a highly irregular verb in every tense, with the exception of the imperfect.

Venir preterite conjugation is what is known as a stem changing irregular verb as are so many other verbs that are irregular in the preterite.

In Venir’s case the stem is ‘VEN’, in the preterite tense however this stem changes to ‘VIN’ and this is shown clearly in the table below.

Venir Preterite Conjugation

yo vine I came
viniste You came
él, ella, usted vino He/She/You came
nosotros/as vinimos We came
vosotros/as vinisteis You came
ellos, ellas, ustedes vinieron They/You came

Saber Preterite Tense Conjugation

The Spanish verb Saber meaning ‘to know‘ is irregular in all but the imperfect tense.

Saber preterite conjugation is, like so many other irregular verbs in the preterite, a stem changing conjugation. Saber’s stem of ‘sab’ changes to ‘sup’ as highlighted in the table below.

Saber Preterite Conjugation

yo supe I knew
supiste You knew
él, ella, usted supo He/She/You knew
nosotros/as supimos We knew
vosotros/as supisteis You knew
ellos, ellas, ustedes supieron They/You knew

Querer Preterite Tense Conjugation

The Spanish verb Querer meaning ‘to want‘ is frequently used and is also irregular in all but the imperfect tense. Querer preterite conjugation is a stem changing irregular tense as the stem of querer changes from ‘quer’ to ‘quis’ as detailed in the table below.

Querer Preterite Conjugation

yo quise I wanted
quisiste You wanted
él, ella, usted quiso He/She/You wanted
nosotros/as quisimos We wanted
vosotros/as quisisteis You wanted
ellos, ellas, ustedes quisieron They/You wanted

Poner Preterite Tense

The Spanish verb Poner meaning ‘to put’ is yet another frequently used Spanish verb that is extremely irregular.

Poner preterite tense conjugation is quite different in its irregularity compared to the other indicative tenses as the stem ‘pon’ changes to ‘pus’ as shown in the table below.

Poner Preterite Tense Conjugation

yo puse I put
pusiste You put
él, ella, usted puso He/She/You put
nosotros/as pusimos We put
vosotros/as pusisteis You put
ellos, ellas, ustedes pusieron They/You put

Conjugating Poder Preterite Tense

Poder, the Spanish verb meaning ‘to be able to’ or ‘can’, is a highly irregular verb that is used frequently and is therefore important to know, poder preterite is no exception and the conjugation is covered below.

Before going over the conjugation of poder preterite you would be wise to read about a verb training program that will not only help you learn verb conjugation better but will help you do so much quicker too, just follow this link to learn more about the Verbarrator!

Poder in the Preterite Tense

yo pude I was able to
pudiste You were able to
él, ella, usted pudo He/She/You was/were able to
nosotros/as pudimos We were able to
vosotros/as pudisteis You were able to
ellos, ellas, ustedes pudieron They/You were able to

How to Conjugate Haber Preterite Tense

Conjugating haber, or rather knowing how to conjugate haber, in all tenses is very important as haber’s primary use in Spanish is as an auxiliary verb and as such it will be used a great deal when using the perfect tenses of all verbs.

However, this particular post will cover the conjugation of haber preterite tense which is highly irregular.

Before checking out the conjugation of haber preterite you should first consider for a moment how many verbs and various conjugations you will need to be proficient at using to be a fluent Spanish speaker and then you will realize the enormity of the task ahead of you!

This is why you need to take note of any learning/study aids that become available that will make the task of learning Spanish verbs much easier and quicker. One such tool is the Verbarrator and if you are serious about learning Spanish I strongly urge you to check it out.

Haber in the Preterite Tense

yo hube I had
hubiste You had
él, ella, usted hubo He/She/You had
nosotros/as hubimos We had
vosotros/as hubisteis You had
ellos, ellas, ustedes hubieron They/You had

How to Conjugate Dar Preterite Tense

Learning how to conjugate dar preterite tense can be difficult due to the fact that it is highly irregular but here is a table showing its different forms.

Dar in the Preterite Form

yo di I gave
diste You gave
él, ella, usted dio He/She/You gave
nosotros/as dimos We gave
vosotros/as disteis You gave
ellos, ellas, ustedes dieron They/You gave