Does yo acababa de cenar translate to:

I had just finished eating dinner


I was just finishing eating dinner

  • 4
    The former. The latter would be translated as "Estaba terminando de cenar" ("acabando" is most unusual).
    – Gustavson
    Aug 22 '17 at 1:25
  • @Gustavson, feel free to post your reply as the answer. Aug 22 '17 at 4:34

Yo acababa de cenar refers to the moment right after finishing your dinner. In English, the form used for that is the past perfect:

I had just finished my dinner

Let's try with a complete sentence:

Yo acababa de cenar cuando llamaron a la puerta

In English you convey the same meaning this way:

I had just finished my dinner when the door bell rang.

  • 1
    This is nitpicking, but note the OP didn't specify any context. Todos los días mientras yo acababa de cenar... would use the present continuous in English translation.
    – pablodf76
    Aug 22 '17 at 19:43
  • 1
    @pablodf76 It's taken me a bit to understand you, but now I get it. Yes, acabar can be used here with its intrinsic meaning (a synonym of terminar) and the English equivalent would use the continuous form (past continuous, in this case). But, based on the comments for the question, I don't think it is the case.
    – Gorpik
    Aug 23 '17 at 6:24
  • I just thought this over and I think this is not correct in any case. The imperfect acababa must refer to an ongoing action ("I was finishing my dinner"). That's how I'd perceive it, anyway. If my dinner had already been finished when the bell rang I'd say Yo había acabado etc.
    – pablodf76
    Aug 24 '17 at 16:09

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