preterit vs. imperfect question

0
votes

When you want to say "all of my friends were there," or something like that, do you use imperfect or preterit? For example, which of the following is correct?

1) Todos mis amigos estaban allí.

OR

2) Todos mis amigos estuvieron allí.

???

1811 views
updated OCT 18, 2009
posted by dixiegrrl8910
Both sentences are correct, you have to give context.

4 Answers

1
vote

Generally speaking, the preterite answers the question "what happened?" "Estar" in the preterite reflects this concept of "what happened" by changing meaning; in the preterite it means that someone arrived or someone became (in the sense of emotion or health). Examples: "Mis amigos estuvieron atrasados" (my friends got there late), "ella estuvo enferma (she got sick), "estuvimos enojados" (we got angry). On the other hand, "estar" in the imperfect is just background, or just the way things were. Examples: "Ella estaba enferma, así que no asistió a clase" (she was sick, so she didn't go to class), "todos mis amigos estaban allí" (all of my friends were there). I hope this helps! {There are a few other infinitives that change meaning in the preterite: "poder" in the preterite means "to manage to do something", "querer" in the preterite means to try to do something", but "no querer" means "to refuse to do something"]

updated OCT 18, 2009
posted by mountaingirl123
0
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It's not necessarily imperfect! So if that is the sentence as a whole, you would say "todos mis amigos estuvieron allí". If you said "todos mis amigos estaban allí" and there is nothing else to the sentence, a native speaker would ask "and what happend?" because imperfect gives you backgroud, but doesn't give you specific information. Using it in this case would be like saying "When all my friends were there." or "All my friends were there and."

updated OCT 18, 2009
posted by asdfghjkl4
0
votes

yep.....it's imperfect

updated OCT 18, 2009
posted by iankaploski
0
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You are setting the scene for something that happened in the past, so it would be imperfect.

updated OCT 18, 2009
posted by lorenzo9