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Lawless Spanish > Spanish Lessons > Grammar > Verbs > Tenses, Moods, Voices > Imperfect

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Spanish languageImperfecto - Spanish Imperfect

The imperfect tense is used to talk about a past action or state of being without specifying when it began or ended. It is often equivalent to "was ___-ing" in English. The Spanish imperfect can also express repeated actions in the past - equivalent to "used to" in English.

¿Dónde estabas ayer? Where were you yesterday?
Quería ir al cine. I wanted to go to the movies.
Ella leía el periódico. She was reading the newspaper.
¿Partíais? Were you leaving?
No tenían tiempo de estudiar. They didn't have time to study.
¿Llovía anoche? Did it rain last night?
Bailábamos todos los días. We used to dance every day.

The imperfecto and pretérito are often confusing for Spanish students - learn the difference.

Conjugating the imperfecto

The imperfecto is relatively easy, because all regular and all but three irregular Spanish verbs are conjugated with the standard root (found by dropping the infinitive) plus the appropriate endings.

Hablar - to talk
yo hablaba nosotros hablábamos
hablabas vosotros hablabais
él hablaba ellos hablaban
Comer - to eat
yo comía nosotros comíamos
comías vosotros comíais
él comía ellos comían
Vivir - to live
yo vivía nosotros vivíamos
vivías vosotros vivíais
él vivía ellos vivían

Note that the yo and él forms are identical; if the context leaves ambiguity as to which person was doing the action, be sure to use the pronoun.

Ir, ser, and ver are the only irregular verbs in the imperfecto.

Ir - to go
yo iba nosotros íbamos
ibas vosotros ibais
él iba ellos iban
Ser - to be
yo era nosotros éramos
eras vosotros erais
él era ellos eran
Ver - to see
yo veía nosotros veíamos
veías vosotros veíais
él veía ellos veían


Test on imperfecto

Pretérito vs Imperfecto



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