The imperfect or the preterite tense in Spanish?
In Spanish we can use both El Pretérito Imperfecto and El Pretérito Indefinido to talk about past actions. Which tense to use can be tricky to understand for English speakers because we can use the same English translation for both tenses.
El Pretérito Imperfecto tells us in general when an action took place, whereas El Pretérito Indefinido tells us specifically when an action took place.
Some words and phrases indicate specific timeframes, and therefore signal the use of either El Pretérito Imperfecto or El Pretérito Indefinido.
Examples using El Pretérito Imperfecto in Spanish
In the examples from above, the time markers tend to trigger El Pretérito Imperfecto because they generally refer to an ongoing length of time or express frequency with no definite beginning and end.
Here is a list of Time markers used with El Imperfecto in Spanish.
Examples using El Pretérito Indefinido in Spanish
In the examples from above, the time markers tend to trigger El Pretérito Indefinido because they generally refer to a more limited and specific timeframe in the past, with a beginning and an end.
Here is a list of Time markers used with El Pretérito Indefinido in Spanish.
See also Using the imperfect vs the preterite in Spanish (general use).
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