How do you determine between preterit and imperfect?

1
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In my Spanish class at school we have learned the difference between preterit and imperfect but it just doesn't stick. I still don't understand it and I've been aware of it for about 2 years now. Do i just need to give it time?

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updated ENE 9, 2010
posted by riley_AT93

4 Answers

0
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Both the preterit and the imperfect describe an action that happened in the past.

The preterit is used for specific times in the past.

The imperfect is for general actions in the past.

The imperfect sets the scene for events in the past. Imperfect: time/date, describing people, feelings, and actions of unknown duration.

Always use the imperfect when describing the date or time in the past.

Always use the imperfect when describing emotions or states of mind.

The Preterit is responsible for actions that happened once, and happened for a specific amount of time or to indicate the beginning or end of an action.

A lot of times, the preterit and the imperfect are used together to tell a story. All stories began with the imperfect to set the scene and something happens, a list of actions in the preterit follows and you can also add some present tense verbs to show the outcome of those preterit actions.

For more information, watch learn Spanish 2.10

updated ENE 9, 2010
posted by hanran
0
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Practice, practice, and more practice smile

updated ENE 9, 2010
posted by sunshinzmommie
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One way to think about it is this: Preterit is a past action that started and ended in a short period of time. Imperfect is a past action that lasted a long period of time, something that was habitual.

IE: Yesterday I saw a car crash = Ayer ví un choque. Preterit

Last year I ate enchiladas almost every day. El año pasado, comía enchiladas casi todos los días. Imperfect

updated ENE 9, 2010
posted by 005faa61
0
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Check out this link. It has got your answer.

updated ENE 9, 2010
posted by Seb79