Chapter 3

Imperfect Tense

The imperfect, like preterit, is one of the two simple past tenses in Spanish.

 

 

A table that displays three common spanish verbs as table headers. Different endings for the verb in the imperfect tense are displayed below.
Hablar Comer Vivir
-aba -ía -ía
-abas -ías -ías
-aba -ía -ía
-abamos -íamos -íamos
-aban -ían -ían
  • 1st & 3rd Person Singular are the same.
  • -er & -ir ending verbs are the same.
  • -er & -ir have accents.

 

A table that displays 3 irregular verbs as table headers. A list of of possible endings are displayed below the table header verb, in the imperfect tense.
Ser (to be) Ir (to go) Ver (to see)
-era -iba -veía
-eras -ibas -veías
-era -iba -veía
-eramos -ibamos -veíamos
-eran -iban -veían
  • There are only 3 irregular verbs in the imperfect.
  • 1st & 3rd Person Singular are the same.
  • Ver have accents.

 

The imperfect tense is used to describe habitual or repeated actions, actions that were in progress or recurrent actions, conditions, or events in the past.

  • Habitual or repeated actions are often things a person used or would do over and over.

Íbamos a la playa todos los veranos.
We used to go to the beach every summer.

  • Actions that were in progress (-ing), in the past.

Estaba preparando el almuerzo.
I was preparing lunch.

  • When talking about a past action  in progress was interrupted,
  • the action in progress is in the imperfect,
  • while interrupting action is in the preterit.

Estaba durmiendo cuando sonó el teléfono.
I was sleeping when the phone rang.

 

 

States of being in the past.

  • Common verbs that describe conditions or situations in the past: tener, estar, ser, gustar.

 

Me gustaba leer novelas románticas.

I used to like reading romantic novels.

To state habitual actions in the past.

 

  • Past habits are commonly translated as used to.

Cuando era niña, usaba mi bicicleta todos los días.
When I was a little girl, I used to use my bike every day.

 

Time & Date

    Era la una de la mañana.
It was one o’clock in the morning.

 

Era el 25 de diciembre.
It was December 25th.

 

Age

       Las chicas tenían 24 años.
The young ladies were 24 years old.

 

El niño tenía tres años la última vez que lo vi.
The boy was three years old last time I saw him.

 

Conditions (emotional and weather), Descriptions of Characteristics

    Mi sentía contenta con mi carro nuevo.
I was happy with my new car.

 

Mi abuela era bajatenía el pelo gris.
My grandmother was short and had grey hair.

 

Llovía mucho ese día.
It was raining that day.

 

1. Juan hablaba con su hermana.

a. Juan spoke with his sister.
b. Juan was speaking with his sister

 

2. Mis amigos y yo íbamos al cine los domingos cuando estábamos en la universidad.

 

a. My friends and I used to go to the movies every Sunday when we were in college.
b. My friends and I go to the movies on Sundays when we are in college.

 

3. Yo leía mientras él veía la televisión.

a. I am reading while he is watching television.
b. I was reading while he was watching television.

 

4. Mi abuelo tenía mucha energía.

a. My grandfather had a lot of energy.
b. My grandfather will have a lot of energy.

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Spanish 002 by Ana Serrano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.