"I couldn't find her so I left" - I put encontre (with an accent) because it was a completed action. I thought that encontraba would be the past continuous. Am I misunderstanding something?
Your answer using the main verb encontrar in the preterite: encontré is grammatically correct, but the meaning and the nuance that we are referring to in the hint "expressing couldn't" is not reflected in the preterite. The lesson specifies that nuance with the imperfect tense, not other past tenses.
I hope it clarified it.
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