Say you have the sentence:

Por lo general, mis papás me decían que yo necesitaba estudiar.

I believe that necesitar should be in the imperfect as there is no definite time frame for the occurrence of the actions. Is this right?

Or alternatively is it:

Por lo general, mis papás me decían que yo necesito estudiar.

1 Answer 1


Imperfect tense is the most appropriate way to say it. It connotes that they used to tell you that you needed to study, but that it is no longer the case.

In your alternative example above, necesito is actually first person present tense, not preterite. Preterite tense would be necesité. (It would still not be the best way to express the idea that your parents used to tell you to study.)

  • I would have used past subjunctive since it's more like a command in the past. You needed to study!. It doesn't necessarily mean that you did study. mis papás me decían que yo necesitase estudiar
    – dockeryZ
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 18:51

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