This is an informal comment, a set of examples to visualize the way that a native Spanish speaker thinks about the verb estar. The rules may appear in common bibliography.
Estar is so different for us from Ser. Ser is the character of the things. Estar is the state of the things. In English, these two concepts are blended in the to/be verb.
Estuve is used ...
En el español literario, es algo más frecuente encontrar enclisis, o el posicionamiento de un pronombre átono después del verbo (y en tal caso, se escribe junto al verbo, tildando si es necesario). No había restricción en los tiempos verbales ni en los verbos. Las reglas de su uso varían a lo largo de la historia del español, pero por lo general eran estas:...
Picasso was one of the best artists of the 20th century
Picasso fue uno de los mejores artistas de siglo veinte.
Here fue is better because we are speaking of a "definite" past, we are stating a past "concluded" fact, from the point of view of the present.
Pablo Picasso was a painter and sculptor.
Here we have less context, hence the decision "fue/...
The answers to Ambiguity with respect to "tuvo" and "tenía" may shed some light. It is true that the differences between éramos and fuimos are subtle, but they are the same as in those answers.
If you say éramos you are referring to an unspecific moment in time.
If you say fuimos you are referring to a given moment in time.
Maybe a ...
Both questions seem strange to me, because they sound as if the person growing up in Argentina could have affected the country in any way, which is absurd.
Actually, a more suitable question would have been:
¿Cómo fue crecer en Argentina? (What was it like to grow up in Argentina?) to refer to the final result.
¿Cómo era crecer en Argentina? (same ...
Use pretérito imperfecto for actions that used to happen, and pretérito perfecto simple for actions that happened in special conditions.
Cuando estaba en Nueva York tomaba el metro.
When I was [living] in New York, I took the subway.
In a present tense, you would say
Yo cojo/tomo el metro [cada día, dos veces a la semana...]
I take the subway [...
The imperfect here would mean something like "action that was taking place while suddenly something interrupted it".
Félix era un escritor austriaco, pero todo eso cambió.
Indefinido (or preterite) is much more suitable for telling a story. This is narration of who he was.
It's something like Felix was a writer vs. Felix used to be a writer. The first ...
Ambas formas denotan una acción pasada. La diferencia entre perfecto e imperfecto no tiene que ver con una acción acabada o inacabada, al contrario de lo que dicen algunos. Es una cuestión "topológica" (me refiero a una rama de las matemáticas).
Voy a dar una explicación matemática que quizá no todos entiendan:
Situémonos en la recta del tiempo. El momento ...
You are right: the pretérito perfecto simple (indefinido) could have been used there.
However, pretérito imperfecto is used because it's indicating/describing the circumstance in which all the other events happen (this is one of the main uses of pretérito imperfecto, as you probably know), or rather the circumstance to which all the other events are related,...
If you say
Los invitados llamaban a la puerta y les abrió una joven, era una muchacha.
it sounds like the door was opened while the guests were knocking at the door. You get the same meaning with
Los invitados llamaban a la puerta cuando les abrió una joven.
Los invitados estaban llamando a la puerta cuando les abrió una joven.
If the door was ...
Preguntada a la RAE en Twitter (qué gran recurso), me responden con lo siguiente:
No, que sepamos. Se suelen utilizar denominaciones como «variante en “-ra”» y «variante en “-se”».
Yo tampoco he encontrado nada al respecto en ningún sitio, así que de momento parece que la respuesta se queda así.
It is always safer to use the conditional:
Si pudiera elegir, me casaría con ésta. (present counterfactual)
The imperfect past sounds colloquial and is not always safe to use:
Si pudiera elegir, me casaba con ésta. (present counterfactual)
In this book reference can be found to this use of the tense, known as "pretérito imperfecto hipotético o ...
I don't agree with your analysis of your English sentence. In the phrase "mostly used in literary contexts", the word "used" is not a past tense. It is present tense, passive voice.
Accordingly, the Spanish would be "se usa" and not what you have.
Poder in the imperfect merely expresses the ability to do something. It doesn't express whether it actually happened or not. So if I say, Ayer podía ir al cine, all you know is that I had the time off and the money to go to the movie. Maybe I went, maybe I didn't — neither is implied. In the negative, Ayer no podía ir al cine, though, we know I didn't.
Your first sentence is not formed correctly. Note that the positive, indicative form is:
Creo que hice lo mejor que podía hacer.
When you change it to negative form, what needs to be in subjunctive is the main verb of the proposition you now distrust, which in this case is hice. You need to use the present perfect subjunctive, which is haya hecho. The ...
Speaking from an intuitive point of view, the first one:
sabía, sabías, sabía...
is roughly equivalent to the English 'I used to know', an example sentence would be:
Yo sabía hablar español (I used to know how to speak Spanish).
Here you knew something but maybe forgot due to lack of practice.
The second one:
supe, supiste, supo
means 'I knew', an ...
Absent other context, both sentences are perfectly acceptable and virtually interchangeable. However, they will change meaning substantially if you provide additional context.
An imperfect sentence generally has two interpretations. Either it represents something on going, or something habitual. In either case, it is something that occurs simultaneously ...
Both are correct (although, if you are using Pretérito perfecto for ir, why wouldn't you use te same for tener?).
Mi mamá fue a la tienda porque tuvo que comprar leche. (Pretérito perfecto simple)
Mi mamá fue a la tienda porque tenía que comprar leche (Pretérito imperfecto)
The difference between both verb tenses is that Pretérito perfecto simple (and all ...
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 ...
From my personal understanding, the difference between the word choices is very subtle and is not literal but depends more on the connotaion of the words.
In either case, "Fuimos" and "Éramos" translate to "were" directly as "Never were we what can be called friends".
However despite having the same literal meaning, how the sentence is read adds more depth ...
Nunca éramos sounds very weird in Spanish, I'd say that it is not correct (I don't know the exact rule in this case), you could say, however, with a similar meaning:
No éramos lo que se puede llamar amigos.
In this case, you mean that you are not friends (but you could or could not have been friends in the past. You could join both forms in a sentence like:...
El uso de los dos (o tres) verbos en pretérito imperfecto hace que las acciones parezcan simultáneas o paralelas, y ambas dotadas del aspecto durativo del imperfecto:
Cuando sucedía A, sucedía B. (B comenzó y terminó junto con A, o en un momento indeterminado durante A.)
En cambio, la irrupción del indefinido (también conocido como pretérito perfecto ...
Creo que el caso más habitual del subjuntivo como modo del verbo principal de la oración (sin conjunciones que lo introduzcan) se da en las expresiones de deseo (donde el verbo "desear", "querer", "esperar" está obviamente implícito), por ejemplo:
Dios te oiga (Deseo/Quiero/Espero que Dios te oiga).
Maldito sea el que me estafó.
Ojalá tenga razón (el ...
Tal vez / Quizás / Acaso can usually be used with either the subjuntive or the indicative to indicate the speaker's mood / belief about likelihood while involving no other verbs. The subjunctive usually represents a lower probability.
Tal vez él lo quiere. / Tal vez él lo quiera. - Perhaps he wants it.
Reading into the nuance might tease out something ...
This question would ideally be answered by someone with a working knowledge of language teaching, based on studies about best practices. I haven't been able to find something like that, so I'll just give you my opinion.
You ask if you can always use "present perfect" (that is, the tense called pretérito perfecto) instead of the "simple past" (that is, the ...
In this sentence, and many of the kind, there is no difference between the imperfect and the progressive. I would personally use the progressive, but the form with the imperfect is grammatically correct and its meaning is clear.
The imperfect can also express a habitual action in the past (which in English would employ used to or the modal would), and in ...
The difference between preterite and imperfect has to do with the manner of describing a situation, either from the point of view of the end result or the process. As Guifa says in his answer, poder specifically means mere capability when in the imperfect; it means achievement when in the preterite.
No pudieron terminar means they were (after some time) ...
El Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas tiene una entrada sobre el uso de los tiempos en oraciones condicionales. Para tu caso, considero relevante el siguiente fragmento de la entrada:
Si la condición se refiere al presente o al futuro, la prótasis va en pretérito imperfecto o copretérito de subjuntivo y la apódosis en condicional simple o pospretérito [...]...
No, you cannot.
You base things off of whether something has already happened at the particular moment in the narrative sequence. He taught them at moment X so that they would learn at some point after moment X. Because the very nature of the preposition para obligates such an ordering, it's impossible to use indicative after para que. As well, para que ...
» Muestra a Paul cuando fue más joven.
(At some definite point in the past, it shows when Paul was younger.)
» Muestra a Paul cuando era más joven.
(During a period of time -unknown- in the past, it shows when Paul was younger.)
The use of fue or era is not always clear-cut, but we restrict to use the preterite for actions that happened at some ...