Fable using Preterite and Imperfect

Fable using Preterite and Imperfect


I have a spanish assignment for my 102 class that uses both preterite and imperfect tenses.

The assignment is to write a fable and the instructions for one portion is to describe the problem between the two characters using the imperfect. In my case, the problem will be that Jorge was cheating and Pedro became upset. They're playing checkers and Jorge steals a few of Pedro's pieces and lies about it.

How would I construct such sentences in the imperfect? The preterite and imperfect really confuse me and I haven't been taught the imperfect yet (don't ask me why I have an assignment when I haven't been taught it...cause I have no idea.)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Are these sentences correct using the imperfect?

Jorge robaba los pedazos de Pedro. Pedro acusaba Jorge de robar y Jorge hablaba una mentira.

updated NOV 25, 2009
edited by graciejo
posted by graciejo

2 Answers


alt text Graciejo:

Here is a table comparing the uses of the preterit and imperfect


Comparing The Preterit (Pretérito) and The Imperfect (Imperfecto)

Preterit – Pretérito
(Past - Completed)
?Imperfect – Imperfecto
(Past - Continuous)
-----------------------------------------------------? -------------------------------------------------------------
This tense expresses an action in the past that was completed at some time in the past.
The specific past actions will have been performed
(1)- at a fixed point in time
(2)- a specific number of times in the past
(3)- during a specific amount of time in the past
?This tense expresses an action or a state of being in the past that was ongoing or continuous in the past.
The action(s) in the past will have these qualities
(1)- they took place repeatedly in the past
(2)- they were ongoing or continuous in the past
(3)- they occurred over an extended period of unspecified time in the past


This is a basic comparison. There is certainly more detail and in particular, regarding the imperfect. For the additional more detailed information and examples, see Paralee Whitmire's Reference Pages by following these links
For the preterit ----> El Pretérito , and
For the Imperfect ----> El Imperfecto

You may also use these last two links to see the verb endings for the "ar", "er" and "ir" verb endings. If it has not yet been taught to you, you may need these to complete your homework.

Remember that when you have finished your assignment, you can Post it in the Forum, in the Proofreading catagory, and ask other members to look over your finished assignment with a view too correcting or polishing it up. Just be sure you enter it in both Spanish and English so members know what you wanted to say.

Good luck with your assignmnet,


updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by Moe
Thank you! I'm posting my fable now. - graciejo, NOV 25, 2009

When using imperfect, you are referring to things that were on going in the past (things you did more than once or with frequency) Example : Yo siempre me levantaba a las seis de la manana (I always used to get up at six am)). The imperfect is also used with time and setting the scene (by this, I mean you are describing what was happening around you at the time (the sun was setting, the wind was blowing, etc...)).

Also, with the imperfect, there are certain phrases that you should keep an eye out for that show things happening often (todos los dias, siempre, nunce, cada (manana, verano, etc))

As far as the preterite goes, again, things that happened in the past, but are over and done with and typically occured once. Example : esta manana, yo me levanto a las ocho(this morning, I got up at 8:00).

Again, as with the imperfect, there are key words/phrases to be looking for (esta manana/tarde/noche, anoche, el otro dia, ayer, etc.)

When talking about something that was going on when something interrupts, you can use both preterite and imperfect. The ongoing action (what you were in the process of doing) you would use the imperfect. The action that interrupts the ongoing action would be in the preterite. Example : Yo miraba la television cuando me llamaste (I was watching tv (ongoing action) when you called (interruption).

I hope that helps.

updated NOV 25, 2009
posted by Seb79
Thanks. Your explanation of when to use both tenses helps. - graciejo, NOV 25, 2009
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