Questions tagged [pretérito-imperfecto]

Past actions with continuity over time // Acciones pasadas con continuidad en el tiempo

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18 votes
6 answers
2k views

No supo la respuesta

Why do people say things like: Se lo pregunté, pero no supo la respuesta Sabía seems more natural to me, and I've been told that either is fine, but I'm still a bit fuzzy on why somebody would use ...
13 votes
4 answers
76k views

estuve vs estaba: When do I use imperfect versus preterite for "estar"?

When do I use imperfect versus preterite for estar? I heard there are special rules here. Cuando estuve en Nueva York yo vi la Estatua de la Libertad Cuando estaba en Nueva York yo tomaba el ...
8 votes
1 answer
690 views

What type of construction is verb+"se", like in the word "veíase"?

I am reading a children's novel, El león, la bruja y el ropero, translated into Spanish by the Chilean editorial group Andrés Bello. I came across a form of ver that I can't explain. In context, ...
7 votes
7 answers
782 views

How does "nunca éramos amigos" imply that we used to be friends, but no longer are?

On Lang-8, I posted an entry using the sentence: Nunca éramos lo que se puede llamar amigos. Someone corrected it to: Nunca fuimos lo que se puede llamar amigos. They said that "éramos" ...
6 votes
3 answers
350 views

The use of 'imperfecto' vs. 'indefinido' in two specific sentences

I am aware of when to use imperfecto and when to use indefinido in many cases. However, the following examples are not clear to me. In a text about 'Bambi', there is written: Felix Salten fue un ...
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6 votes
4 answers
7k views

¿Cómo se usa el antepretérito?

En clase hemos estado repasando el tiempo pluscuamperfecto. En todos los ejemplos que vimos, usaron el imperfecto del verbo haber. Cuando pregunté a mi profesor sobre el pretérito de haber, nos dijo ...
6 votes
1 answer
193 views

Use of imperfect tense to mean conditional

I saw this used in some celebrity interview and in a tv show I'm watching. Basically, the imperfect tense is used interchangeably with the conditional tense to mean a conditional statement. My ...
6 votes
1 answer
207 views

Uso del imperfecto con el imperfecto del subjuntivo

En la canción de Calle 13 llamada Ven y critícame escucho la frase ... Si yo quisiera vender algo montaba una tienda Prefiero regalarte música, aunque tu no la entiendas ... A mí me parece muy rara ...
5 votes
2 answers
5k views

Differences between "era" and "fue"

I have these two sentences: Picasso era uno de los artistas mejores de siglo veinte. (Picasso was one of the best artists of the 20th century) Pablo Picasso era un pintor y escultor. (...
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5 votes
3 answers
467 views

How can I express "Something happened while something else was going on" in Spanish?

¿Cuál es correcto para indicar la idea "Something happened while something else was going on"? No vi nada mientras estaba corriendo. o No vi nada mientras corrí.
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5 votes
1 answer
136 views

Preterito Indefinido or Imperfecto when talking about experiences in the past

I want to ask a question about the difference between indefinido and imperfecto. I was watching a video of Angel Di Maria, an Argentinian footballer, and he was asked ¿Comó fue Argentina ...
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5 votes
3 answers
2k views

'Nunca' and 'siempre' in the past: Preterite or imperfect?

It is commonly taught that the imperfect is used to describe general facts and habitual or recurring actions in the past. But what about sentences with the adverbs 'siempre' and 'nunca' and the ...
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Spanish names for preterite and imperfect tenses

In school, I learned that the Spanish past tenses were called preterite and imperfect in English, and preterito and imperfecto in Spanish. However, in talking to native speakers I've run across other ...
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4 votes
2 answers
187 views

Is there any case in which the subjunctive mood can be used in simple sentences?

Per the excellent advice of Carlos Alejo, I've restructured this question to get more to the heart of what I'm seeking (thanks Carlos). Is there any case in which the subjunctive mood can be used in ...
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Difference between imperfect indicative and imperfect progressive

Yo estaba durmiendo cuando me llamaste. Yo dormía cuando me llamaste. Both have the same meaning of "I was sleeping when you called me". I can't really understand if there's any difference ...
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4 votes
1 answer
60 views

Tense changed in mid-stream, why?

I was reading an article in the online edition of El País about the collapse of airlines when the opening paragraph puzzled me El 15 de diciembre de 2006 cerraba la línea aérea Air Madrid tras una ...
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4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Ambiguity with respect to "tuvo" and "tenía"

If I were to tell a story about someone who had a particular problem and, by the time the story was finished, the problem was solved, would I use "...tuvo un problema" or "...tenía un ...
  • 347
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Pretérito indefinido vs pretérito imperfecto: ¿"estaba" or "estuve un poco enfermo el fin de semana pasado"?

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 ...
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4 votes
5 answers
11k views

Expressing past belief (creí vs. creía vs. pensé vs. pensaba)

When expressing in Spanish something that you believed or thought in the past, there are four options: Creí que ... Creía que ... Pensé que ... Pensaba que ... I learned that creía que was the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
750 views

Tiempos pasados para expresar deseos futuros

Vamos con un nuevo episodio de "preguntas de carretera". Hoy, volviendo a casa en el coche tras una comida abundante en un pueblo cercano, exclamé en voz alta: Me echaba yo una siesta al llegar a ...
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4 votes
1 answer
71 views

Are there any other irregular verbs in imperfect tense?

Googling irregular verbs in Spanish for imperfect tense always ends up with a simple three verbs: ir, ser, ver. Some pages even go as far as saying "There are only 3 irregular verbs in imperfect&...
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4 votes
2 answers
106 views

Imperfect or Preterite?

I have a problem choosing between preterite or imperfect. I know that the imperfect talks about conditions and the preterite talks about specific moments. For example(this is an example and not ...
4 votes
1 answer
434 views

The two imperfect subjunctives, is one actually future?

I am in Mexico City and people here are telling me that the subjunctive form -ra is actually future, and that only the -se form is imperfect. I have always been taught that both are imperfect (...
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3 votes
3 answers
1k views

Simple preterit and imperfect preterit connotations of "saber"

I need some refreshing on the differences between preterit and imperfect preterit tenses of the verb saber. I understand the following connotations: saber -- To know (or to taste) sé, sabes, sabe -- ...
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3 votes
1 answer
68 views

Indicative imperfect passive reflexive verb for "... is used..."

The sentence I'm trying to write in English: There even is a second imperfect within the subjunctive mode, but it's a bit archaic and mostly used in literary contexts. The verb of interest here is ...
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3 votes
1 answer
546 views

¿Tienen o han tenido algún nombre concreto las dos formas del pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo?

Comenta @pablodf76 en su respuesta a otra pregunta que las dos formas del pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo no tienen un nombre oficial o aceptado entre los diferentes libros de texto que lo enseñan. ...
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3 votes
3 answers
19k views

"Tuvo" vs "tenía"

What is the difference between 'tuvo' and 'tenía'? Por ejemplo, "Mi mamá fue a la tienda porque tuvo que comprar leche." vs "Mi mamá fue a la tienda porque tenía que comprar leche." Which one is ...
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3 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why do we use imperfect when describing emotions in the past tense?

I was wondering why we describe emotions in the past tense using the imperfect tense, because if you were saying "I was sad", I would think to translate it to "Yo fui triste", but it would actually be ...
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3 votes
1 answer
73 views

Why is the preterite used in the following example?

I was reading an article on BBCMundo and came across the following sentence: "Como la más joven y la única niña en la familia, dice que siempre estuvo muy unida a su padre." I thought that ...
3 votes
0 answers
92 views

¿En cuáles contextos se usaban los pronombres reflexivos después de los verbos conjugados? [duplicate]

En el español antiguo, en algunos casos los verbos iban seguidos por los pronombres reflexivos, contrariamente a las normas del español moderno. Sin embargo, no estoy seguro de en cuáles situaciones ...
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2 votes
4 answers
182 views

Can I always use present perfect for all past actions instead of memorizing verb conjugations in the simple past?

Can I always use present perfect for all past actions instead of memorizing verb conjugations in the simple past? For example: "Yo les he dicho, les he hecho, les he traido" ( present perfect) ...
  • 415
2 votes
4 answers
1k views

Difference between poder imperfect and preterite

I was wondering if anyone had a clear and easy to understand description of the difference between the meaning of the verb "poder" as used in the preterite tense versus in the imperfect tense (both ...
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2 votes
2 answers
657 views

Use pretérito imperfecto or pretérito indefinido?

I have the following sentence : Los invitados (llamar) ______ a la puerta y les (abrir) _____ una joven (ser) _____ una muchacha. I think that it should be the following : Los invitados (llamar)...
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2 votes
2 answers
340 views

Should I use preterit or imperfect to express something that used to happen repeatedly?

For example, if I wanted to say "They used to travel every day", which would I use: Ellos viajaron cada día. Ellos viajaban cada día.
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2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Problem with pretérito indefinido vs pretérito imperfecto and 'ser'

I have been learning Spanish for about 4 months now and came across the first hurdle which I really can't overcome by myself. In my book (Gramática de uso del español, Luis Aragonés), one of the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
553 views

Preterite vs Imperfect with Poder

Entonces, decidimos llamar por teléfono a un amigo que, afortunadamente, estaba en casa, por lo que pudo venir a recogernos. Why use the preterite instead of imperfect? Isn't the ability to do ...
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2 votes
1 answer
181 views

Fue/Era in impersonal expressions

In impersonal expressions, like in the sentence "It's a pity that you were sick," would it be better to translate the sentence as Fue una lástima que estuvieras enfermo or as Era una lástima que ...
  • 503
2 votes
3 answers
488 views

Estar + gerundio, ¿qué significa? [duplicate]

I have the following two spanish sentences: Me estaba bañando cuando sonó el teléfono. Mientras me bañaba, sonó el teléfono. We use imperfect tense describing an action (Me estaba bañando, me bañaba)...
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2 votes
1 answer
837 views

Cuál es la diferencia en el significado, entre el Imperfecto, el Pretérito Indefinido + el Gerundio y el Imperfecto + el Gerundio? [duplicate]

Ejemplos: Yo te esperaba. Yo te estuve esperando. Yo te estaba esperando. Cuál es la diferencia en el significado?
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Preterite vs imperfect with haber

Cuando salimos de la estación, no había ningún taxi. Why use the imperfect instead of preterite? can't the times there wasn't a taxi be counted?
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1 vote
2 answers
63 views

Imperfect subjunctive with things we know happened

In sentences like "He taught them so that they would understand," if the speaker is certain that "they understand," could we use the normal past tense as Les enseñaron para que entendieron instead of ...
  • 503
1 vote
3 answers
459 views

Is it correct to say "todo tiempo pasado 'fue' mejor" instead of "todo tiempo pasado 'era' mejor"?

Below is an excerpt from Sábato's El Túnel. La frase "todo tiempo pasado fue mejor" no indica que... I'm reading this as follows: The phrase "the past was better" does not indicate that... I'm ...
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1 vote
2 answers
416 views

Indefinido o imperfecto: acción que sucede en mitad de otra en el pasado

Estoy tratando de traducir esta frase de inglés: When I was in school, the easiest points were the ones I had to learn by heart. ¿Puedo usar el imperfecto para todos los verbos? Cuando estaba ...
  • 199
1 vote
4 answers
1k views

Preterito imperfecto and condicional in reported speech

What is the difference in using those tempos in reported speech apart from representing the future in the past? Dijo que compraba el perro Dijo que compraría el perro
1 vote
2 answers
101 views

"Como si fuera representar" o "como si fuera para representar"?

I'm trying to say "the story starts suddenly as if to represent an intentional eclipse..." Would it be: "El cuento empieza de repente como si fuera para representar" or "El cuento empieza de ...
1 vote
1 answer
279 views

Estuviste vs Has Estado

I wanted to ask a question about the difference between estuviste and Has estado. I was asked to complete the following sentence: ¿(tú, estar) alguna vez en Colombia? I answered as: ¿Estuviste ...
  • 663
1 vote
1 answer
80 views

"Cómo olvidar que volabas", how to translate it?

I'm translating this song to English. At 1:50 the lyrics are ¿Cómo olvidar que volabas? I've seen various translation around the net and people translate it to "How could I forget that ...
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1 vote
1 answer
227 views

Should we say "Muestra Paul cuando 'fue' más joven" or 'era' for "It shows when Paul was younger"?

Muestra Paul cuando fue más joven. or Muestra Paul cuando era más joven. I want to say, It shows when Paul was younger. It's for a tv show which is showing a character from another show but in ...
1 vote
2 answers
364 views

Do we use pretérito or imperfecto for a recurring action in the past?

Which of these sentences are correct when describing a period of time? Viví en España 3 años y durante ese tiempo fui a la escuela y comí con mis amigos en la terraza. Viví en España 3 años ...
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1 vote
1 answer
42 views

Imperfecto versus Indefinido

Recently, I've been discussing with some fellow language learners the significance of the use of the imperfect tense in the following sentence: Algunos eran asesinados por los soldados, mientras que ...