Preterite and Imperfect


No entiendo!!

Por que usar preterito antes Imperfecto en este ejemplo...

Se durmió cuando amanecía.

Why is the sleeping in preterite? Is it because the action is now completed when the person was woken up? And why is amanecer is imperfect? Surely it would be an action that is not habitual ....

HELP! I'm still having trouble with preterite and imperfect but I thought I understood it!

updated OCT 27, 2009
posted by Nicole

1 Answer


dormirse means to fall asleep
amanecer means to dawn, to get light

Se durmió cuando amanecía - He-she fell asleep as it was getting light

amanecía is an action in progress
se durmió is finished

compare: se durmió: he-she fell asleep
se dormía: he-she was falling asleep

amaneció a las cinco: the day started at 5 (it would be more correct to say; empezó a amanecer a las cinco)
amanecía (estaba amaneciendo) cuando llegué a París (The day was breaking when I arrived in Paris)

Also notice: el amanecer, which is a noun and it means "dawn"

updated OCT 27, 2009
posted by elisabeth