Spanish Imperfect Tense Forms
The imperfect tense (el imperfecto ) is one of several past tenses in Spanish. It is used mainly to describe past habitual actions or to set the scene in the past, what a person “used to” do or “was” doing. Below you will find when to use it as well as how to conjugate it for regular and irregular verbs.
Regular Imperfect Forms
There are only two sets of endings for regular imperfect verbs, one for -ar verbs and one for both -er and -ir verbs. Simply remove the infinitive ending and add the correct imperfect ending depending on the subject of the action.
Regular Imperfect Verb Endings
|Subject||-ar verbs||-er and -ir verbs|
|usted, él, ella||-aba||-ía|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||-aban||-ían|
Since the 1st person and 3rd person singular have the same conjugation endings, context and subject pronouns will indicate the subject if it is ambiguous.
Yo caminaba por el parque cada domingo. (I walked through the park every Sunday.)Mi abuela caminaba por el parque cada sábado. (My grandmother walked through the park every Saturday.)Yo tenía un perro. (I used to have a dog.)Mi vecino tenía un perro. (My neighbor used to have a dog.)
Irregular Imperfect Forms
There are only three verbs with irregular conjugations in the imperfect. No stem-changes, no spelling-changes, only these three:
|Subject||ir (to go)||ser (to be)||ver (to see)|
|usted, él, ella||iba||era||veía|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||iban||eran||veían|
Uses of the Imperfect Tense
In general, the imperfect can translate to what someone was doing or used to do. It sets the background knowledge or scenery for a story.
1. Actions Repeated Habitually
These are the activities that you did over and over for a long period of undetermined time.
2. Actions that Set the Stage for other Actions
The imperfect verb is interrupted by a preterite verb.