How do native Spanish speakers resolve the ambiguous -amos ending in 1st person plural in all regular -ar verbs?
Example: 'hablamos' could be "we speak" or "we spoke."
All I can think of is context, that is, some word, words or a phrase in sentence that establishes the time frame.
This seems very problematic for the non-native speaker, since it implies one must wait to hear the entire sentence to get the tense the speaker intends, or, there is no time-sensitive context in the sentence. There must be a better way, since hundreds of millions of people around the world speak Spanish.
My goal is to speak Spanish like an educated native of Spain or Latin America.
Here, on 1/9/2019, I am adding text I tried to include as a comment, but it is too long.
When I asked this question, the answer I was hoping for was the answer a Spanish instructor would give in a Latin country. I assumed that even for native speakers, a formal pedagogical approach to resolving ambiguous verb endings was taught in school, and that curious students would ask the question much as I have. Perhaps that just shows how naive non-native learners are?
All the answers received thus far, though useful, depend on context or idiom. I was able to translate about half of aparente001’s examples from my vocabulary and knowledge of grammar. What do non-native learners then do? Resort to dictionaries and machine translators, as I did. Google had four problems with that text, so, I focused on intuiting what the writer intended and substituted my own words that did pass machine translation and made sense in context. For the phrase, «Ya llevamos tres capítulos.», which Google translates as “we’ve already had three chapters,” the closest I could get at Span¡shD¡ct is «llevo estudiados tres capítulos», but notice, this idiom includes the verb estudiados, past participle of estudiar. In fact, I suggested in a comment that perhaps the past participle with a helping verb of some sort was one way of dealing with ambiguous verb endings. Is this not such an example? It seemed to me «Ya leímos tres capítulos.», “we’ve already read three chapters,” expresses that thought without relying on an obscure idiom. Or, perhaps that idiom should be rendered as: «Ya llevamos leídos tres capítulos.» Google translates this as “We have already read three chapters.”
Google also had a problem with su voz, which, following Spinelli’s discussion of ambiguous su, I changed to la voz de ella. Google stupidly translated con ella as “with him.” It took con a ella to get Google to render “with her.” Go figure. Machine translators are far from perfect but absent an immersion program, or a Spanish-speaking friend to serve as mentor, what else can we do? I think idioms are fascinating, and I think a college Spanish major in U.S. could devote a full quarter or semester to their study. But that is not what I asked.