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Using El Preterito Imperfecto to describe a situation in the past

We use El Pretérito Imperfecto to describe situations in the past, i.e to explain what "was happening". Some of these situations are:

  • Talking about what the weather was like
  • Talking about who one was with
  • Describing qualities
  • Talking about age
  • To say what the time was
  • To describe a situation/setting

Read and listen to these examples:

En los años sesenta había muchos hippies.In the sixties there were many hippies.

El hotel tenía muy buenas instalaciones.The hotel had very good facilities.

En Madrid hacía sol y calor.It was sunny and hot in Madrid.

El paisaje en el campo era muy bonito.The landscape in the countryside was very beautiful.

Ella tenía el pelo rubio y rizado.She had blond curly hair.

Los niños jugaban en los columpios.The children were playing on the swings.

Eran las tres de la tarde.It was three in the afternoon.

Luis estaba con su novia en el bar.Luis was with his girlfriend at the bar.

See also El Pretérito Imperfecto

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Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

El paisaje en el campo era muy bonito.The landscape in the countryside was very beautiful.
Ella tenía el pelo rubio y rizado.She had blond curly hair.
En Madrid hacía sol y calor.It was sunny and hot in Madrid.
Los niños jugaban en los columpios.The children were playing on the swings.
El hotel tenía muy buenas instalaciones.The hotel had very good facilities.
Luis estaba con su novia en el bar.Luis was with his girlfriend at the bar.
En los años sesenta había muchos hippies.In the sixties there were many hippies.
Eran las tres de la tarde.It was three in the afternoon.
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