The Imperfect Tense is one of two ways to talk about events that happened in the past in Spanish. Regular Imperfect Forms There are only two sets of endings for regular imperfect verbs in Spanish, one for -ar verbs and one for both -er and -ir verbs. We were coming home when we saw Juan. For example: Caminaba a la biblioteca cuando me encontré con el amor de mi vida. The Imperfect Spanish tense describes general actions that happened in the past with no definite beginning or ending. Translation of the imperfect to English depends on the context. The following table shows the imperfect of two regular verbs: The imperfect of reflexive verbs is formed in just the same way as for ordinary verbs, except that you have to remember to give the reflexive pronoun (. Almost always – Casi siempre. For an introduction to the topic and more in-depth explanations, see our grammar lessons starting with Preterite vs Imperfect I and Imperfect I. Yo comía frecuentemente paella. The most frequent translations for asistíamos include "we attended," "we used to attend," "we were attending," and "we would attend.". There are so few to remember! 1 Imperfect conjugation. 11. The imperfect tense in Spanish The Imperfect Tense – “used to _” or “was _ing” 1. Imperfect: regular -ir … 2 Uses of the imperfect. 1.2 Second Conjugation "-er". They were already feeling better when the doctor arrived. Imperfect Tense Conjugation of bailar – Imperfecto (de indicativo) de bailar. Using "were" plus the gerund denotes the imperfect past in English. The imperfect tense can be tricky. (Although the usage is no longer common, the English "perfect" is sometimes a synonym of "complete.") There are two past tense forms in Spanish: the imperfect and the preterite. Spanish Verb Conjugation: yo bailaba, tú bailabas, él / Ud.… to describe what things were like and how people felt in the past, to say what used to happen or what you used to do regularly in the past, to describe what was happening or what the situation was when something else took place, The following table shows the imperfect tense of one regular. Imperfect Tense in Spanish. Today, with a few regional exceptions, the -ra form has basically replaced the -se form, and so it is the -ra form you should learn. The imperfect indicative (pretérito imperfecto de indicativo) is a Spanish past tense. Spanish Imperfect Tense. “El pretérito perfecto” refers to actions in the past that have already been completed such as “Trabajé ahí” (I worked there). The imperfect is used for past actions that are not seen as completed. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Let’s add two more flashcards for regular -er and -ir verbs in the imperfect tense: Verb Flashcards Complete List. NOTE: "dormir" and "querer" are irregular verbs but they have regular conjugation for the imperfect tense. English does not have an imperfect tense per se, although it has other ways of expressing the concept of the Spanish imperfect, such as by context or by saying that something used to happen or was happening. Over time, the two verb forms came to be used identically. The imperfect is used to: describe repeated, habitual, or usual actions in the past describe actions that were ongoing in the past Note that there is a subtle meaning of difference from the preterite equivalent, "Asistimos a la escuela," which also could be translated as "We attended the school." The imperfect tense is used when the beginning and end of the action are unknown, unspecified, and/or unimportant. They say practice makes perfect, so how can one of the most common Spanish past tenses be imperfect? The last stop in our journey is getting to know the different uses this tense has in the Spanish … A simple example is "Asistíamos a la escuela" or "We attended the school." Things are different now… The imperfect past tense in Spanish will also be used for descriptions of … We use the imperfect in English, too. Video – Imperfect Tense – An in-depth lesson on the imperfect tense. It can also be used to talk about: actions that were repeated habitually Revelry is people enjoying themselves in a noisy way, often while they are drunk. The next list includes some of these expressions. Video – Imperfect Tense: An introduction to conjugations – A quick lesson explaining how to use, translate and conjugate verbs in the imperfect verb tense in Spanish. Montse was watching television when the telephone rang. Then test your knowledge in the free exercises. The "imperfect" is the primary past tense form that we need to learn. Similarly, the imperfect is used in specifying the background of another event. Spanish has past perfect, present perfect and future perfect tenses. Here, the interrupted action uses the imperfect tense, while the interrupting action uses the preterite. By itself, the term "imperfect tense" usually refers to its indicative form. The imperfect tense is used to refer to actions in the past that occurred repeatedly. There are two sets of imperfect tense endings in Spanish: one for verbs ending in -ar and another for those ending in -er and -ir. The imperfect indicative (pretérito imperfecto de indicativo) is a Spanish past tense. 2. Preterite vs Imperfect Examples . Revising Spanish grammar - imperfect tense Use the imperfect tense to talk about repeated or continuous actions in the past. Check your answers at the bottom of the page. comía, comías, comía, comíamos, comíais, comían. We use it to describe a past situation, habit, or an action interrupted by another action. Although its conjugations are relatively straightforward, its use can be complicated. To conjugate a regular verb in the imperfect tense in Spanish, simply remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) and add the imperfect ending that matches the subject. Get the latest news and gain access to exclusive updates and offers, Create an account and sign in to access this FREE content. I used to walk every day. He had been driving that car for three months. Then test your knowledge in the free exercises. I was watching television when my uncle arrived. For example, "Nos conocimos cuando asistíamos a la escuela," or "We met each other when we were attending the school." The distinction between the Spanish imperfect and preterite past tenses is as difficult for English speakers to get their head around as the distinction between ser and estar.We just don’t think this way in English! The preterite suggests the speaker no longer attended the school, or that the reference is to a specific time. 12. When to Use the Spanish imperfect tense. Imperfecto. The imperfect tense in Spanish is the tense that expresses action in the past that has not been completed, that occurred habitually or frequently, or that took place over an indefinite period of time. The definite article: el, la, los and las, The indefinite article: un, una, unos and unas, Comparatives and superlatives of adjectives. Veníamos para casa cuando vimos a Juan. Conocimos is in the preterite from because it refers to an incident that occurred at a specific time, but the background portion of the sentence uses the imperfect. I used to eat paella frequently. When to Use the Imperfect Tense in Spanish One of the trickiest tenses to learn in Spanish is the Imperfect (or el imperfecto). This is made up of the imperfect tense of. Hay dos grupos de terminaciones del imperfecto en español: uno para los verbos que terminan en -ar y otro para los que terminan en -er y -ir. For the following Imperfect Tense in Spanish worksheet (el pretérito imperfecto), fill in the blanks with the correct conjugation of the Spanish verbs given. The indicative imperfect is conjugated in the following pattern for regular -ar, -er and -ir verbs: The subjunctive form in more common use is conjugated as follows: One of the most common uses of the present tenses is to tell of past actions that did not have a clear beginning or end. Learning when to use which is one of the more frustrating things a Spanish student has to do because we just don't think the same way in English. Speaking of the past tense, it has two forms in Spanish – preterite and imperfect, which are used differently depending on the situation. Spanish Imperfect Tense Imperfect Tense Use of the Imperfect. We use the imperfect in English, too. Of the main three Spanish past tenses, the Spanish past imperfect can be the most problematic for Spanish students. Video – Imperfect Tense – An in-depth lesson on the imperfect tense. Learn to conjugate -ar,-er,-ir verbs in the Spanish imperfect tense with Lingolia’s online grammar lesson. It also looks at the irregular verbs of ser, ir and ver. The past imperfect tense is one of ‘the big 3’ Spanish past tenses including the present perfect and past preterite. In Spanish, the imperfect tense is used: to describe what things were like and how people felt in the past to say what used to happen or what you used to do regularly in the past Cada día llamaba a su madre. They had been going out together for a long time. We have a stem (the first part), and "infix" (or middle part), and the ending (which matches the subject). One of the best things about the imperfect tense is the very small list of irregular verbs. The imperfect tense can also be contrasted with the perfect tenses of Spanish, which refer to completed action. Use the imperfect to talk about your childhood or past routines. These may involve situations or repeated actions that occurred over an indefinite period of time. It is probably one of the reasons I love this tense so much. The imperfect tense is generally used for actions in the past that do not have a definite end. Spanish Imperfect Tense The imperfect is used to denote an action that took place in the past, but the specifics of the timeframe are left up in the air. The past tense in Spanish has two basic forms: “El pretérito perfecto” and “El pretérito imperfecto”. 1.4 Summary of 'imperfect' endings. Summary of 'imperfect' endings Next, we have a table for you with all of the first, second and third person conjugations of regular verbs in the imperfect indicative. One common use of the imperfect is in describing events that serve as background for another event. Cuando era joven, mi tío trabajaba mucho. We had been living in Madrid for two years. We use it to describe characteristics of an event, the time in the past, the appearance of a person or thing in the past, habits or routines in the past, contrast between the past and now and periods of time in the past. Today, with a few regional exceptions, the -ra form has basically replaced the -se form, and so it is the -ra form you should learn. Use of the imperfect tense indicates that it is unimportant when the attendance began and ended—in fact, asistíamos could be used even if the speaker is still a student at the school as long as the students attended in the past. There are, in fact, 7 past tenses in Spanish but I call the above tenses ‘the big 3’ because you only need to know these 3 tenses to be conversational in Spanish. One reason for the complexity is the Imperfect … There has always been an excessive confusion among Spanish learners with regard to when to use preterite and imperfect. The imperfect is used to denote an action that took place in the past, but the specifics of the timeframe are left up in the air. The -se form might be considered the "traditional" form of the imperfect (or past) subjunctive, while the -ra comes from an old Latin indicative form. Spanish Verb Conjugation: yo miraba, tú mirabas, él / Ud.… We use it to describe a past situation, habit, or an action interrupted by another action. The imperfect tense is also used to refer to actions in the past that occurred over an extended period of time. Over time, the two verb forms came to be used identically. We have covered the imperfect tense conjugation, the regular and irregular verbs and the expressions associated with the Spanish imperfect tense. After teaching your students the basic of the tense, have them practice conjugating some sentences and then assign students a project to write a break-up song in Spanish using the imperfect tense. Title: Student worksheet: imperfect tense - holidays Author: AQA Subject: Languages; Spanish Created Date: 4/17/2019 11:09:40 AM Expressions Used with the Spanish Imperfect Tense Just as the English present simple is associated with time expressions such as never, always, often, sometimes, etc., the Spanish imperfect tense also has a set of expressions that can give you a hint that the imperfect tense is coming. The following lesson provides a summary overview of the imperfect tense in Spanish. It is also used for descriptions, states of being, and for providing background information about the past. Video – Imperfect Tense: An introduction to conjugations – A quick lesson explaining how to use, translate and conjugate verbs in the imperfect verb tense in Spanish. 3 The question with the imperfect indicative. Spanish Verb Conjugation: yo bailaba, tú bailabas, él / Ud.… Gerald Erichsen is a Spanish language expert who has created Spanish lessons for ThoughtCo since 1998. These can be actions that are not yet completed or refer to a time in general in the past. The difference between the Spanish Imperfect & Preterite tenses. 11. 1.1 First Conjugation "-ar". Imperfect Tense Conjugation of bailar – Imperfecto (de indicativo) de bailar. This is because we can use the past imperfect tense, el pretérito imperfecto in Spanish, for setting the scene, talking about habitual behaviour in the past, for descriptions of things and people, and in combination with the el pretérito indefinido to describe the context for past events. For instance, when looking at the sentence - Yo corría los sábados. These past tense forms are often used to talk about an ongoing action or event that was interrupted. The imperfect tense is also used to “set the stage” for an event that occurred in the past. Note: If you need a reminder of the imperfect conjugation in general, take a look at the lesson The Imperfect Tense in Spanish. The imperfect tense in Spanish is the tense that expresses action in the past that has not been completed, that occurred habitually or frequently, or that took place over an indefinite period of time. For example: They were eating dinner when I arrived. Closely related to the first phrase trigger, this time you are talking … Imperfect: regular -er -ía-ías-ía-íamos-íais-ían. 1.3 Third Conjugation "-ir". In grammatical terms, "perfect" means "complete," so the Spanish imperfect tense is used to describe an incomplete or ongoing action or state of being, especially when it lasted for a long time. -aba, -abas, -aba, -ábamos, -abais, -aban. It is used for ongoing or recurrent actions in the past. The imperfect tense is one of the two Spanish simple past tenses, the other being the preterite. In Spanish there are different tenses to talk about the past, one of them is the imperfect tense. It contrasts with the preterite tense, which expresses​ an action that took place at a definite time or has been completed. The name of this tense in Spanish is: "pretérito imperfecto". By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Sample Sentences Using the Imperfect Tense, Introduction to the Subjunctive Mood in Spanish, Using the 2 Simple Past Tenses of Spanish, Conjugation of Regular Verbs in the Subjunctive Mood, Conjugation of the Spanish ‘Conocer’ and Similar Verbs, How To Conjugate ‘Conducir’ and Other Spanish Verbs Ending in ‘-ducir’. In Spanish, you also use the imperfect tense with certain time expressions, in particular with, For more information on the use of tenses with. It contrasts with the preterite tense, which expresses​ an action that took place at a definite time or has been completed. Spanish imperfect verbs (in boldface) with possible English translations are shown below. Irregulars in the Imperfect. The imperfect (imperfecto) is one of the two simple past tenses in Spanish. De niño, mis padres (ser) muy estrictos. The preterite and imperfect tenses are often referred to as the two simple past tenses of Spanish. When we have an imperfect sentence, we can translate it several ways. It was sunny at the weekend; We were living in Spain at the time; I used to walk to school. Write in the Spanish also has two forms of the subjunctive imperfect, which are nearly always interchangeable. Uses of the imperfect A quick lesson explaining how to use, translate and conjugate verbs in the imperfect verb tense in Spanish. Sometimes, instead of the ordinary imperfect tense being used to describe what was happening at a given moment in the past when something else occurred interrupting it, the continuous form is used. It starts with the uses of this tense and continues with its conjugation. It also looks at the irregular verbs of ser, ir and ver. The Imperfect Tense and The Preterite Tense are both ways to talk about actions that happened in the past. The imperfect is known as the pretérito imperfecto in Spanish. 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