HomeQ&AThe Preterit and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

The Preterit and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

7
votes

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.

3283 views
updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by quépasa

9 Answers

3
votes

Hi quépasa

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!

updated SEP 30, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
I guess I should move beyond -¿Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo, Qué Ves Ahí?- - quépasa, SEP 29, 2009
jejeje...don't feel too bad. I've read so many Spanish books geared towards small children...I could almost swear that I've relived a second childhood. :-) - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
14
votes

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.

Verb drills

updated OCT 10, 2009
edited by ocbizlaw
posted by ocbizlaw
I´ll take a look. Thank you. - quépasa, SEP 29, 2009
I use that site for verb drills too. It's easier than making flash cards. And you can just pop in there for a few minutes at any time. It's very helpful. - Alicia-53, SEP 29, 2009
4
votes

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.

updated SEP 29, 2009
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
You rock. Thanks for the chin-up. - quépasa, SEP 29, 2009
2
votes

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.

updated OCT 10, 2009
posted by quépasa
Hang in there kiddo!! ;-) Journal sounds like a great idea. - arnold3, SEP 29, 2009
2
votes

Don't worry! You'll get it, I promise. grin

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. big surprise

updated OCT 10, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
Thanks, you´ve been a good help. - quépasa, SEP 30, 2009
2
votes

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.

updated SEP 29, 2009
posted by lorenzo9
Good point Lorenzo - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
Will do. - quépasa, SEP 29, 2009
2
votes

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 grin

updated SEP 29, 2009
posted by AnnoLoki
That's correct Alex. Subjunctivitis: A large painful swelling of the eyes accompanied by lacrimation and often depression. Etiological agent: Usually follows initial exposure to the subjunctive and can become chronic if attempts at learning are repeate - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
repeated - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
no you missed the 'sub' bit, which means beneith... subjunctivitis is therefore a swelling under the eye, not of the eye :-) - AnnoLoki, SEP 29, 2009
1
vote

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.

updated OCT 10, 2009
posted by quépasa
1
vote

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.

updated SEP 29, 2009
edited by Seitheach
posted by Seitheach
Hi Phil. I understand how you feel. My pillow is still damp as a result of all the nights I had to cry myself to sleep over my inability to get a handle on the subjunctive - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
I agree with what Izanoni says: read children's books because the stories are mostly told in the past tense. - --Mariana--, SEP 29, 2009
I have been reading the bible in Spanish. That should be past tense shouldn't it. - Seitheach, SEP 29, 2009
I believe so Phil. - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
My pillow is not damp, YET! That´s a good sign I suppose. I think it´s the irregular part that scares the bleep out of me. - quépasa, SEP 29, 2009
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