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The best way to Use the Imperfect Tense in Spanish

One of many large steps to changing into conversational in Spanish is getting a strong grip on a number of of the language’s many verb tenses, and the imperfect tense is a helpful one to know. Because it doesn’t have a direct equal in English, although, it may be somewhat troublesome for Spanish language learners to know. On this put up, we’ll break down when to make use of the imperfect and the right way to conjugate verbs in that tense.

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What’s the imperfect tense in Spanish?

Imperfect, or pretérito imperfecto, is a tense in Spanish used to speak about previous actions, situations, and occasions and not using a particular length. This consists of previous ordinary actions and actions that weren’t completed prior to now.

The imperfect tense isn’t the one Spanish tense used to speak concerning the previous. There are a whopping 4 totally different previous tenses in Spanish! The opposite tenses are:

  • Preterite: used to speak about actions that came about at a particular time prior to now, in addition to accomplished actions that began and completed prior to now.
  • Imperfect subjunctive: used to speak about emotions associated to previous occasions and hypothetical conditions.
  • Previous good, or pluperfect, subjunctive: used to explain hypothetical conditions prior to now, conditional conditions prior to now, and previous actions that preceded different actions.

Of those three, the preterite tense is essentially the most generally used and is one other helpful tense for learners in Spanish to study.

The best way to conjugate imperfect tense verbs in Spanish

Spanish verbs are categorized in accordance with their endings. There are -AR, -ER, and -IR verbs, and so they change kinds relying on the motion’s tense (in addition to who carried out it). Right here’s the right way to type the imperfect tense.

Common imperfect verbs

This chart reveals you common verb endings within the imperfect tense. To conjugate a common verb utilizing this chart, take away the -AR, -ER, or -IR ending, then add the suitable ending from the chart primarily based on who’s performing the motion. Within the imperfect tense, -ER verbs and -IR verbs are conjugated the identical approach.

Topic -AR verbs -ER and -IR verbs
-aba -ía
you (casual)
-abas -ías
él, ella, usted
he, she, you (formal)
-aba -ía
nosotros, nosotras
-ábamos -íamos
vosotros, vosotras
you all (casual, Spain solely)
-abais -íais
ellos, ellas, ustedes
they, you all (formal)
-aban -ían

Irregular imperfect verbs

Irregular verbs are ones that don’t observe all the common conjugation guidelines. Within the imperfect tense there are solely three irregular verbs: 

  • ser = to be
  • ver = to see
  • ir = to go

You may see the right way to conjugate these irregular verbs on this chart:

Topic ser (to be) ir (to go) ver (to see)
period iba veía
you (casual)
eras ibas veías
él, ella, usted
he, she, you (formal)
period iba veía
nosotros, nosotras
éramos íbamos veíamos
vosotros, vosotras
you all (casual, Spain solely)
erais ibais veíais
ellos, ellas, ustedes
they, you all (formal)
eran iban veían

>> Try this information to the highest 50 commonest irregular verbs in Spanish. 

When to make use of the imperfect tense in Spanish

With a number of previous tenses to tangle with, it may be simple for Spanish learners to be uncertain of when they need to use the imperfect tense. Let’s check out the 4 essential makes use of for the Spanish imperfect.

Describing actions that have been in progress prior to now

The imperfect tense is used for actions that occurred prior to now for an undefined period of time, like in these sentences:

  • Después del trabajo me dolía la cabeza. = After work my head damage.
  • Les gustaban las manzanas. = They used to love apples.

It’s also possible to use the imperfect tense to speak about an motion that was in progress when one thing else interrupted it. This use of the imperfect tense may be tough, as a result of whereas the motion that was in progress makes use of the imperfect tense, the interrupting motion makes use of the preterite tense.

  • Comías cuando sonó la campana. = You have been consuming when the bell rang.
  • La mujer leía cuando llamaron a la puerta. = The lady was studying when there was a knock on the door.

Describing ordinary actions

Actions that have been repeated again and again prior to now use the imperfect tense. Listed here are some examples:

  • Jugábamos béisbol todos los viernes por la noche. = We performed baseball each Friday evening.
  • Los martes iba a clase de baile. = On Tuesdays I went to dance class.

Describing the previous

You should use the imperfect tense to explain the previous, together with its traits and emotions individuals had, equivalent to:

  • La habitación tenía papel tapiz verde. = The room had inexperienced wallpaper.
  • Mi prima estaba triste y tenía lágrimas en los ojos. = My cousin was unhappy and had tears in her eyes.

Describing occasions, dates, and ages prior to now

While you speak about how outdated somebody or one thing was, otherwise you state a previous date or time, you’d use the imperfect tense. As an illustration:

  • Eran las dos de la mañana. = It was two o’clock within the morning.
  • Tenías veintidós años cuando te conocí. = You have been 22 years outdated once I met you.

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