Verbos que inclinan hacia el imperfecto
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Knowing whether to use the pretérito or imperfecto is particularly difficult when translating certain verbs into Spanish. Before reading this lesson, be sure you understand the basics of pretérito vs imperfecto.
Very broadly speaking, the Spanish imperfect is equivalent to the English past progressive (was/were + ___ing), but some English verbs are not often used in this form. So when translating things like was, had, and liked into Spanish, you really have to think about the meaning in order to decide which Spanish tense to use.
Spanish verbs that usually describe background information such as situations, states of being, or mental states are most commonly used in the imperfect:
- creer – to believe
- esperar – to hope
- estar – to be
- gustarle – to like
- hacer – to be (weather)
- parecer – to seem
- pensar – to think
- querer – to want, to love
- sentir – to feel
- tener – to have
|Me sentaba enfermo.||I felt sick (ongoing).|
|Siempre estaba enfermo.||I was always sick.|
|Tenía la gripe.||I had the flu.|
|Hacía frío.||It was cold out (background description).|
But they are used in the pretérito when talking about something that happened suddenly, or something that occurred with a clear beginning and/or end.
|Me sentí enfermo.||I (suddenly) felt sick.|
|Estuvo enfermo durante una semana.||I was sick for a week.|
|Tuvo la gripe.||I got the flu.|
|Ayer hizo frío.||It was cold out yesterday.|
More imperfecto vs pretérito
- Introduction to pretérito vs imperfecto
- Verbs usually in the imperfect
- Verbs with different meanings depending on tense
Pretérito vs imperfecto quizzes
Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on the difference between pretérito and imperfecto with these exercises:
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