Is there any really good way to remember whether to use the Imperfect or Preterit Tense?
I am trying to do a homework assignment and keep having trouble discerning which tense to use. I know the simple rules of, "use the imperfect when something didn't begin or end at a specific time." But I keep confusing myself. Any ideas?emphasized text
Another thing to remember is that a preterite "interrupts" an imperfect... Marcos estaba (imperfect) estudiando cuando sonó (preterite) el teléfono. (Marcos was studying when the phone rang). This helps me to remember that imperfect verbs are seen as if "in the moment" and "ongoing" while preterite verbs are seen as "complete at that moment" (that moment being in the context of the sentence.
Does this help?
In Preterit tense, the actions begin and end in the past. - For actions that can be viewed as single events. Ayer fui a cenar al restaurante. - For actions that occurred during a specific period of time. El partido de baloncestó duró 2 horas. - For actions that were repeated a specific number of times. Ayer abrí la heladera 74 veces. - To state the beginning or the end of an action La misa comenzó a las 10 de la mañana
The imperfect is used for: - Habitual or ongoing actions in the past (Used to) Cada viernes yo solía ir a cenar al restaurante. - To express emotions or feelings experienced in the past - Narration of events that took place in the past.
In general, you can relate the imperfect with another action of the past. Él me dijo que no quería ir al restaurante. Estaba en llamas cuando me acosté.
Hope it helps.
The preterite interrupting the imperfect is the best way to think of it, especially since events can be in both the preterite and imperfect in a single paragraph.
Marcos estaba estudiando cuando sonó el teléfon. El teléfono sonaba en la cocina y cuando Marcos abrió la puerta se cayó. Mientras caía el trató agarrar el pomo.