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I found the following phases (and have used) that signal the use of "Imperfect Tense". Are the simple translations correct? Oh, do you have any phrases that signal the use of "Imperfect Tense"
Thank you.

de vez en cuando (from time to time)
en aquella época (at that time)
frecuentemente (frequently)
generalmente (usually)
muchas veces (many times)
mucho (lots)
nunca (never)
por un rato (for a while)
siempre (always)
varias vaeces (several times)
a menudo (often)
tantas veces (so many times)
a veces (sometimes)
todas las semanas (every week)
cada día (every day)
todas los días (every day)
cada año (every year)
todo el tiempd (all the time)
con frecuencia (frequently)

  • Posted Nov 24, 2008
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14 Answers

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Lazarus has a field day with these (proving that they don't work). If I can find his previous comment on this subject, I'll paste it into the discussion.

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I can't wait for his comments -- I am sure they will be informational.

Natasha said:

Lazarus has a field day with these (proving that they don't work). If I can find his previous comment on this subject, I'll paste it into the discussion.

>

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One of Lazarus' comments:

Again, some of them [referring to a website in question] can be useful, not some will confuse students. However, the list of temporal triggers is rubbish, because I can easily construct a common sentence with indefinite [preterite] with almost every single imperfect trigger, and vice versa. All the books and web pages keep copying from one another, and they all write useless rules that don't apply half of the time. People should know about this, really.

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Maybe it would be better if I delete this discussion!

Natasha said:

One of Lazarus' comments:Again, some of them [referring to a website in question] can be useful, not some will confuse students. However, the list of temporal triggers is rubbish, because I can easily construct a common sentence with indefinite [preterite] with almost every single imperfect trigger, and vice versa. All the books and web pages keep copying from one another, and they all write useless rules that don't apply half of the time. People should know about this, really.

>

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Ha ha. Don´t delete it, I´m interested to see what others say and whether any of the signals/triggers might be valid. In the meantime, here's one of the more interesting previous discussions for your perusal:

[url=http://my.spanishdict.com/forum/topic/show'id=1710195%3ATopic%3A511275&x=1&page=2#comments]http://my.spanishdict.com/forum/topic/show'id=1710195%3ATopic%3A511275&x=1&page=2#comments[/url]

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Yeah, even I could write a sentence in the preterit with all of these. In fact, it could be just about the same for all of them. Say you are describing actions that you performed during a vacation last summer. All of the actions are complete, and occurred within a finite amount of time, so there would be no need to use the imperfect. And, of course, you could also use other conjugations, such as conditional perfect, etc.

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Don't delete it, I'm sure we will all run across it sooner or later. This is how we learn.

Daniel said:

Maybe it would be better if I delete this discussion!

Natasha said:

One of Lazarus' comments:Again, some of them [referring to a website in question] can be useful, not some will confuse students. However, the list of temporal triggers is rubbish, because I can easily construct a common sentence with indefinite [preterite] with almost every single imperfect trigger, and vice versa. All the books and web pages keep copying from one another, and they all write useless rules that don't apply half of the time. People should know about this, really.

>

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Fui de vez en cuando a verlo.
En aquella época jamás me pidió dinero.
Esa palabra se usó frecuentemente en otras épocas.
Nos vimos generalmente una vez cada año.
Lo hizo muchas veces.
Fui mucho al gimnasio.
Nunca me interesó el francés.
Estuve allí (por) un rato
Siempre tuve mucho cuidado.
Comí en ese restaurante varias veces.
Llovió muy a menudo el verano pasado.
Nos peleamos tantas veces, que nos terminamos acostumbrándonos.
Esa palabra se usó a veces en el español clásico.
Limpié el garaje todas las semanas.
Fui a verlo cada día.
Fui a verlo todas los días.
Fui a verlo cada año.
Se quejó todo el tiempo.
Se quejó con frecuencia.

I had to think for a while to find an example with "en aquella época", but the rest were quite straight forward.

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I've added this discussion to "Favorites" in my browser, because someone is sure to ask this again!!

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  1. I went from time to time to see him/it. (pretérito) -- why not Iba - imperfect?
  2. At that time I never asked for money. (pretérito)
  3. That word was used frequently in other periods. (pretérito)
  4. We usually saw them once a year. (pretérito) again why not imperfect? (I do understand, I think)
  5. He did it many times. (pretérito)
  6. I went to the gym a lot. (pretérito)
  7. I was never interested in French. (pretérito)
  8. I was there for a while. (pretérito)
  9. I am always very careful. (No comment -- I'm lost on this one)
  10. I ate in the restaurant several times. (pretérito -- I get it)
  11. It rained very often last summer. (pretérito)
  12. We fought many times, that we finally became habitual. (pretérito - not sure about translation)
  13. ...........

OK I get the point. If I was to make a axiom for what I learned it would be "A single verb tense cannot be strictly attached to a single phrase."

Well I'm glad I didn't delete this discussion -- a lot was learned. At least by me.
Thank you.

lazarus1907 said:

Fui de vez en cuando a verlo.En aquella época jamás me pidió dinero.Esa palabra se usó frecuentemente en otras épocas.Nos vimos generalmente una vez cada año.Lo hizo muchas veces.Fui mucho al gimnasio.Nunca me interesó el francés.Estuve allí (por) un ratoSiempre tuve mucho cuidado.Comí en ese restaurante varias veces.Llovió muy a menudo el verano pasado.Nos peleamos tantas veces, que nos terminamos acostumbrándonos.Esa palabra se usó a veces en el español clásico.Limpié el garaje todas las semanas.Fui a verlo cada día.Fui a verlo todas los días.Fui a verlo cada año.Se quejó todo el tiempo.Se quejó con frecuencia.I had to think for a while to find an example with "en aquella época", but the rest were quite straight forward.

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1. I went from time to time to see him/it. (pretérito) -- why not Iba - imperfect'

It could be iba, but doesn't have to be if the action is complete, such as "In that summer of 1985, I went from time to time to see him." However, if you are merely giving a narrative, you could use the imperfect iba.

4. We usually saw them once a year. (pretérito) again why not imperfect? (I do understand, I think)

Same as above. "When we were living in Guatemala in the 1970's, we usually saw them once a year." It's a complete action, not a habitual one, and not part of a narrative. Again, it COULD be imperfect.

9. I am always very careful. (No comment -- I'm lost on this one)

It's past tense: I was always very careful (during some specific time period).

12. We fought many times, that we finally became habitual. (pretérito - not sure about translation)

We fought so many times that we ended up getting used to each other.

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2. At that time, he never asked me for money.

9. tuve is the irregular past tense (first person, preterite) of tener. I was always very careful.

12. My attempt: We fought so many times that we ended up getting used to it. (not sure)

I think the answer to "why preterite & not imperfect'" is going to be that it could be either; it depends on your perspective and the overall context of what you're communicating. (But don't be surprised if someone corrects / improves my answer.)

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Santiago, ¡siempre me lo estás pisando! (You´re always beating me to it.)

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Natasha said:

Santiago, ¡siempre me lo estás pisando! (You´re always beating me to it.)

Sí, y con mucho gusto. jeje

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