I am studying Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method. It says the following:

To express the past, a Verb will end in either -ado or -ido. Before you use the past verb, you will use the appropriate prefix (e.g. he, ha, has, han or hemos).

e.g. I have waited / he esperado

In this esperar becomes esperado

With was and were there are no prefixes, instead the verb ends in either -aba or -ía

E.g. I was waiting / esperaba

But then it gives this example:

He did it everyday / Lo hacía todos los días.

Shouldn't it be ha hecho todos los días, as there is no was in the sentence?

How do you generally know when to use aba/ia and ado/ido?

  • 3
    In Spanish there are different tenses to express slight meaning changes. You cannot learn them by studying suffixes, so you will not use the correct tenses and your sentences will not make sense. Try to see the difference in English between the Past Simple and the Past Perfect. Your original sentence is: He did it everyday. (past simple), you cannot translate it as if it were: "He has done it everyday". Because it simply doesn't make sense. Try to understand when every tense is used instead of using "tricks" to know which tense must be used. You'll learn better :)
    – Airman01
    May 13 '15 at 12:36
  • 1
    You are interpreting the rule you read in the Michael Thomas method using converse reasoning. It's telling you that when you see a "was/were" construct in English, you should use the imperfect in Spanish. The converse is not necessarily the case. When you see an imperfect in spanish, it doesn't necessarily follow that the English equivalent uses the "was/were" construct. May 15 '15 at 7:12

At a normal, informal conversation, He did it everyday Él lo hacía todos los días is equivalent to lo ha hecho todos los días.

More specifically, they are different conjugations, you may check it here: http://www.wordreference.com/conj/EsVerbs.aspx?v=hacer Hacía is the pretérito imperfecto, and ha hecho is pretérito perfecto compuesto.

There is a subtle difference, with hacía there is no explicit duration, beginning or end of the action. On the other hand, ha hecho is an action from the past which is extended to the present time. But again, in an informal, everyday talk you can use both expressions and they will mean the same.


I'm not familiar with the Michel Thomas Method, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt you to read up on conjugations. he, has, ha, han, and hemos are not prefixes by any stretch of the imagination. Each are the present indicative conjugation of the verb haber.

Haber is an (nearly always) auxiliary verb (helping verb). This is the verb that allows us to create perfect conjugations. We use them in English a lot and sometimes you would wonder how we ourselves interpret their use.

Is "haber" always a helping verb?

If I had had twelve dollars I would have bought it.

translates to

Su hubiera tenido doce dólares lo habría comprado.

The first bolded conjugation is called Past Subjunctive while the second is called Conditional

The way haber works (as an auxiliary verb) is this

(conjugated form of haber) + (past participle) = to have (past participle)

He has eaten = Él ha comido

We have finished = Hemos terminado.

Depending on which of the three kinds of verbs your verb is, you will either have -ado or -ido to express the past participle.

Verbs that end with an -ar generally switch to -ado Verbs that end with an -er or -ir generally switch to -ido

The same goes for the other part of your question

-Ar verbs have an imperfect past tense that ends with -aba -Er and -Ir verbs have an imperfect past tense that ends with -ía.


-aba/-ía is for past verbs (not participle), but -ado/-ido holds for past participle verbs.

I have waited

ends in -ado because you're using past participle. To use esperaba we put

I waited

which also translates to "yo esperé," it all depends of the context so won't know whether it is "esperaba" or "esperé" if you don't know what the context is.


I was waiting

is past continuous which means yo estaba esperando or yo estuve esperando, but not yo fui esperando or yo era esperando.


He did it everyday

that's lo hacía todos los días or lo hizo todos los días, but there's no -ido here because the past participle for do in spanish is hecho. Hence

He has done it everyday

translates to lo ha hecho todos los días, which is in past participle and there's no -ido, so this is a particular case.

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