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When I want to say the following in Spanish:

I was a little bit sick last weekend.

Do I use the pretérito indefinido or imperfecto? e.g.

Estuve un poco enfermo el fin de semana pasado.

Vs

Estaba un poco enfermo el fin de semana pasado.

It feels like I'm describing a situation in the past (imperfecto?), but el fin de semana pasado feels like an indefinido. I was sick, but that's completely over...

How do I know what to use?

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    Both are fine. Depends on the context around them. – user0721090601 Nov 28 '16 at 23:30
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As you noted estuve indicates the action is over. estaba indicates the action is over or not. In this context is totally irrelevant which form you use. I personally would use estaba which is a much more simpler and common form to indicate a single past action. Specially when you don't include another past action in the same context that needs to be prioritize by time.

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  • This makes sense to me. People tend to use "estaba" is situations like this where the existence or nonexistence of a precise endpoint is fuzzy. "Estuve" is an unusual verb. It's not used nearly as often as something like "hablé," because "estaba" is used incredibly often to set a scene, in preparation for reporting a time-defined action with the preterite. For example, "Estaba enfermo cuando llegó tu carta, por lo que no la pude contestar hasta ahora." – aparente001 May 23 '18 at 22:53
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Saying "I was a little bit sick last weekend" has a definite end. Therefore, you should use the pretérito indefinido.

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    How come? You can still be sick. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Nov 29 '16 at 7:17
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    The English sentence "I was a little bit sick last weekend" implies that the speaker is no longer sick. If it was an ongoing sickness, the sentence would have been: "I have been sick since last weekend." – Eric Wiener Nov 29 '16 at 23:20
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    No longer still sick at what point? If he says I was sick and then describes what he was doing as a result of so being, it needs to be imperfect. You can't determine preterite/imperfect generally without more context. That's what fedorqui was getting at. If I say "estaba" or "estuve" enfermo on the weekend, there is going to be the same implication that I am no longer sick — just that with estuve it's guaranteed that I'm not (unless I caught a different illness). – user0721090601 Dec 1 '16 at 3:23

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