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Where do we use the perfecto and why, and where should we use the indefinido and why?

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At the top of this website there is a good, brief description of the differences.



  • I edited to make your link an easy click. - katydew Mar 5, 2012 flag
1 Vote

Watching the videos and using some of the practice quizzes can help you out. Go to Learn on the top bar and then to Lessons 2.6 to 2.10. They are both easy ways to get a free lesson!

People use different words to describe the tenses and I'm wondering if you are comparing these 2 forms of the past: pretérito and imperfecto de indicativo.

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Welcome to the forum!

My book on verbs says that the pretérito perfecto is normally used in formal writing and is a compound verb (formed with haber). Example: After he had spoken, he left--Después que hubo hablado salió.

From what I know, the pretérito indefinido is simply the preterit (pretérito) tense. It is used to express an action that was completed some time in the past. Example: My father arrived yesterday--Mi padre llegó ayer.

Hope this helps.

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However, it can be more complicated than that. In Spain, preterite perfect is used for things that happened in the past, but in the same day. For example, I ate an orange this morning.=He comido una naranja hoy por la mañana.

In other Spanish speaking countries, however, the preterite indefinite is used. I ate an orange this morning=Comí una naranja hoy por la mañana.

Also, preterite perfect is sometimes described as the tense you would use to state something that has been happening or existing up to that point in time. Such as "I have always loved Alfred Hitchcock movies."="Siempre me han gustado las películas de Alfred Hitchcock."

It´s a complicated topic, and I am sure there is a grammar lesson on Spanish Dict about it. Are there any specific examples you would like to provide? If you are a student, in what type of context are you trying to figure out where to use these verb tenses?

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Perfecto and Indefinido BOTH correspond to actions that have finished. He comido una manzana esta mañana or el domingo fui al futbol. THe basic difference comes from the "marcadores temporales": ESTA MAÑANA or EL DOMINGO. Those marcadores temporales implying that the subject is still in the time frame will go with perfecto: hoy, este verano, nunca, en mi vida (i am still alive), esta semana...

Those marcadores temporales implying that the time frame is finished will go with INDEFINIDO: Ayer, en 1930, el martes, a las 3 de la trade, en febrero,...

HOWEVER, only spanish from Spain makes this difference so....if my students are struggling to chose just go for the safe option: INDEFINIDO

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