The Preterit and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
I'm have to admit that I'm struggling with the preterit right now. I studied all three lessons regarding past tense verbs including the one that differentiates between the Preterit and Imperfect tense. I earned decent scores, but I don't feel like I've learned it very well and know that I need more practice.
Any suggestions as to how to tackle this? It seems like a real bear.
If you really want to get the preterit and imperfect tenses down, then I would suggest you try to supplement your learning by reading children's fiction (or if you are feeling extra ambitious then try adult fiction) written in Spanish.
Most works of fiction are written in the past tense and if you pay attention then you will soon be able to recognize how the author shifts from the preterit to the imperfect and back as it becomes necessary. I think that this is the easiest and most interesting way (much better than doing drill after drill after drill after...) to discover the difference in usage between the two.
As an added benefit, it will also expand your vocabulary, and introduce you to so many different phrases and word usages that, as a "gringo," you would likely never have been able to come up with on your own.
I will say that if you do decide to become ambitious and read a more challenging work of literature then I would recommend that you use this site to get quick translations of words/phrases with which you are unfamiliar; however, there is also something to be said about figuring out the meaning of words through contextual cues.
However you decide to do it ¡Buenas Suerte!
I know exactly what you mean. For me, the preterit and and other common verb tense can only be learned by drilling, drilling and more drilling until my little pea brain finally gets it. There is another site, not nearly as good as Spanishdict, so I'll never leave here, but which does have a very good online verb quiz for every tense and most commonly used, regular and irregular verbs. I use it in my spare time frequently just to continuing drilling these verb conjugations into my head.
Check it out and see if it helps.
Don't over-think it. As you say, practice will make it more understandable. We switch from "I was doing" to "I did" in English without even considering why. As you learn more contexts where one or the other past tenses is normally used, you won't have to stop and analyze which tense is appropriate either.
If I said to you "I done it". Your ear would automatically, know that I had made an error without analyzing the time frames and grammar involved. It comes from having heard "have done" in that context a few thousand times. The same thing will happen in Spanish.
I´ve created a journal of the boring things that I´ve done on a daily basis. I brushed my teeth, I combed my hair, I read a book, etcetera. I borrowed a book from the library today to find some drills but then it started to introduce new concepts to me that I´m just not ready for yet. Just grrrrrrrr. Thanks for listening to my frustration.
Don't worry! You'll get it, I promise.
It took me a long time to finally get the preterit. It was only after practicing with those Practice Makes Perfect workbooks that it finally sank in.
...and then they introduced the imperfect...UGH.
Newspaper articles tend to have a heavy dose of preterite, with a sprinkling of other tenses.They are available free on the internet. They are often about things you know about, making them easy to follow even when faced with unfamiliar words. They are fairly short, making them less intimidating than a book. Listening to the news on TV is similar for work on hearing rather than reading.
Yes I'm just going through that myself! (Although not from the lessons on this site) ... I've flown through learning and understanding the other tenses, then all of a sudden it feels like learning another language just to cover that tense! I was hit by the notion that I could no longer do things like listen out for the 'o' sound at the end of a verb to know the speaker was speaking of themself, because it could also be second person simple past!
One thing I found helped was attaching other (more descriptive!) words to tenses... after keep getting confused between which tense description means what, I found it easier once attaching terms like present continuous (gerund; I am running), past continuous (imperfect? I was running), and past static (preterite; I ran). Past participle is the one that participates with an auxiliary to get you into the past (I have run). Subjunctives... I thought that was the bit underneith the eye, that when it swells is called subjunctivitis... but I think I'm about to learn otherwise
I went through 2.6 again the the regular preterites don´t seem so scary now. I quizzed myself again without trying to get a high score but trying to really comprehend. It´s easy to fool yourself into thinking that you´re doing well when you see a high score but really, multiple choice questions give you the option of process of elimination. You can look for the root word and scratch all the rest.
It doesn´t help that I sometimes have ridiculously high expectations for myself.
I am committed. I can do this! Sí se puede. (-Dora la Exploradora)
Thanks again, folks.
I don't usually cry, but when I went through the preterit lessons, I wept openly and often. I got good scores, but I shouldn't have. I decided to go on and finish all the lessons first, then I will go back and start over from the begining. Hopefully one day I will get it.