Posted by Jennifer on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 6:27pm.
oh and if anything is incorrect please show me how to fix it.
Thank you for using the Jiskha Homework Help Forum. One word to describe the Preterit is ACTION. It is something that had a beginning and an end. The English translation is usually something like (habló) = he spoke, he DID speak. One word for the Imperfect is DESCRIPTION. It is something in the "middle." You have no idea when it began or if it even ended. The English translation is something like (hablabas) = you WERE speakING, you USED TO speak, and you spoke (in the 3rd translation it crosses over with the Preterit; therefore making it more difficult to spot.)
John se casó con = John did marry (action ended; not he was in the middle of marrying her) Victoria (since you don't give the English, I'll supply what is most usual.
cuando yo tenía (perfect! imperfect with time and age; don't forget the accent, without which it is incorrect.)
había = also perfect, description
no tenía = correct again
teníamos = again description
esperábamos = the word "mientras" = while gives it away as the Imperfect.
los mayores charlaban = subject is "they were chatting."
Por fin (a "cue" for the Preterit) Victoria esperó = did wait OR esperaba = was waiting. Sometimes only the speaker can decide which. I tend to prefer the 2nd = she WAS waitING
cuando la boda terminó = when it DID finish, not it WAS finishING. The cue here is the preterit "fuimos" we went = two successive actions: it ended/we went
Feel free to ask any other questions. You loathe the Imperfect? It is the easiest tense in the Spanish language as there are only 3 irregular verbs (ser = era / ir = iba / ver = veía)
thank you, this helped me a lot. I'm trying to practice this til I get comfortable with it. I keep overthinking the context of every sentence. my teacher really is not good at explaining this either. *sigh* hopefully over spring break I'll be able to learn everything.
anticipate more questions from me, for sure, haha.
thanks again for taking the time to help me!
P.S. A bit more on the Imperfect, if it will copy and paste!
The imperfect is used:
l. To express a continuous action in the past.
Juan leía el periódico. John was reading the newpaper.
¿Qué hacían mientras el niño What were they doing while the
dormía? child slept (=was sleeping)?
2. To express a repeated or customary action in the past.
Yo le veía todos los días. I saw (=used to see) him every day. Ana nos visitaba siempre los Ann always visited (=used to
domingos. visit) us on Sundays.
3. To describe persons or things in the past.
Tenía el pelo negro. Hew had black hair.
Era un edificio alto. It was a tall building.
4. With hacía + a time expression + que + the imperfect to describe an action thata began in the past and continued in the past. In such expressions, How long? is expressed by ¿Cuánto tiempo hacía que? followed by the imperfect indicative.
Hacía una hora que estudiaban. They had been studying for
an hour. (It made an hour that they were studying.)
¿Cuánto tiempo hacía que Ud. How long had you been trabajaba? working? (How much time
did it make that you were
5. With the preterite. It describes what was going on in the past when a definite action occurred (preterite).
Dormían cuando entró. They were sleeping when he
P.P.S. Preterit & Imperfect Contrasted
PRETERITE AND IMPERFECT COMPARED
l. Narrates a completed action l. Describes a situation
or event (similar to a still (similar to a moving picture). picture).
2. Indicates a limit of the 2. Indicates the continuance
action or event (either the of an action or event
beginning or the end). (neither the beginning nor
Was . . . and were . . . do not always indicate that the imperfect must be used in Spanish. Compare the following pairs of sentences:
Estaban contentos en su casa. Estuvieron contentos de
(situation) (became glad)
They were content in their house. They were glad to see it. (him)
Era muy alto. Fue herido.
(description) (action, event)
He was very tall. He was wounded.
In describing a situation or a scene, we use the imperfect, even though the English verb is not expressed with was . . . or were . . .
El sol brillaba. The sun shone. (The sun was
SPECIAL MEANINGS IN THE PRETERITE:
estuvo allí - he got/arrived there estaba - was
pudo ir - he managed to go (did go) podía - able (had the
quiso salir - he intended to leave opportunity)
no quiso salir - he refused to leave (no) quería - wanted
supo la verdad - he found out/learned the truth sabía - knew
tuvo el libro - he got/"grabbed" the book tenía - had
Ok, sorry. It would not copy & paste and that's not a surprise! I'll retype for you.
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