What is the difference between imperfect and preterite?

What is the difference between imperfect and preterite?


I cannot tell when to use imperfect tense, or when to use preterite tense. Any suggestions?

updated DIC 20, 2009
posted by taytay2163
If I am describing a person in the past tense, would that be imperfect or preterite? - taytay2163, OCT 27, 2009

3 Answers


I asked the same question here

Just read the answers there.

updated OCT 27, 2009
posted by edgedonkey

Preterit vs Imperfect
Preterito vs Imperfecto


Span¡shD!ct's Paralee Whitmire has created a couple of Reference Articles that may be very helpful in determining the differences and uses of these two verb tenses.


Here is the Reference page for The Preterit (or simple past) tense, and

Here is the reference page for The Imperfect tense.

Read these pages over focusing on the Uses of the two tenses for now. For now, don't get bogged down in the verb endings which you can focus on at another time.


I hope these pages are a big help to you.



updated DIC 20, 2009
edited by Moe
posted by Moe

good question! i had to do a project in school about this so i think that this i show it works (but im not completely sure/liable for any harm this may get you in. haha). preterite- "she washed the dishes". Imperfect- "I used to play with those all the time". My project was based on what we did when we were little, so im thinking thats what a prime example would be. Hope this helps! cheese

updated OCT 27, 2009
posted by DabigA
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