HomeQ&AHow do you know when to use the imperfect or preterite

How do you know when to use the imperfect or preterite

1
vote

For example,

Carmen (ir) de compras porque (buscar) ropa nueva para el colegio.

Carmen went to the mall because she went to look for new clothes for school.

I don't need help congugating the word for me, I know how to do that part. But, could someone explain the reasons why the words should be imperfect or preterite.

should (ir) be in the preterite form or imperfect form and should (buscar) be in the preterite or imperfect form?

5200 views
updated MAY 26, 2010
edited by Mas6694
posted by Mas6694

4 Answers

1
vote

The perfect tense or Preterite is used to indicate an action that has been completed at some point in the past

for example; (él) Corrió por la calle = He ran through the street

or Compré un reloj de pulsera para mi sobrino = I bought a watch for my nephew.

It is used to indicate an action that has happened only once

The imperfect - by contrast - is used to indicate an action that a person was doing or used to do: the regular ar verbs will end in aba and the Ir and er verbs in ía

(Yo) Trabajaba con los niños en una escuela = I used to work with children in a school

Estaba leyendo cuando mi hermano entró la sala (de estar) = I was reading when my brother entered the living room

The last sentence illustrates quite well the use of both verb tenses in the same sentence

This is just intended as a basic guide please also look at the verbs under the grammer section Pajaro has given you a link on her post grin

I hope that this helps grin

updated MAY 26, 2010
edited by FELIZ77
posted by FELIZ77
Please change your information regarding the endings for ir and er verbs! It is not *iba*, it is *ia* in the imperfect tense. - Pajaro44, MAY 26, 2010
Thank you, Pajaro - FELIZ77, MAY 26, 2010
De nada, FELIZ. I make mistakes all the time! - Pajaro44, MAY 26, 2010
1
vote

Here is another resource, on this Web site, for explanations on the use of the "preterite" and the "imperfect":

click here

All you need to do is click on the topics preterite and imperfect after going to the link.

updated MAY 26, 2010
posted by Pajaro44
0
votes

From my (limited) understanding, the preterite is used if the action occurred at a specific time and the imperfect is used if you don't really know when it happened. See this for another explanation: http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/pretimp1.htm and this: http://spanish.about.com/od/verbtenses/a/two_past_tenses.htm

updated MAY 26, 2010
posted by chica_rica
0
votes

Example: The Spanish verb "venir" gives us the means to express "to come." One of the neat things about "venir" is that this verb is very similar to another verb you have already learned. Look at the forms below and see if you can guess which verb. That's it! Tener!

ir- to go

estar-to be

ir- to go

venir -to come

yo

estoy

voy

vengo

estás

vas

vienes

él, ella, usted

está

va

viene

nosotros

estamos

vamos

venimos

vosotros

estáis

vais

venís

ellos, ellas, ustedes

están

van

vienen

updated MAY 26, 2010
posted by princessjane
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