Past tenses in Spanish (el pasado)
Now that you have understood how to conjugate Spanish verbs in the present tense, it’s time to learn more about the different forms - especially the past tenses. In Spanish there are two past tenses more than in English!
Conjugation and endings of the past tenses in Spanish
- Pretérito Perfecto Simple (Indefinido)
- Pretérito Perfecto compuesto
- Pretérito imperfecto
- Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto
|Past tense||First person singular||Translation|
|Pretérito Perfecto Simple (Indefinido)||comí||I ate|
|Pretérito Perfecto compuesto||he comido||I have eaten|
|Pretérito Imperfecto||comía||I ate|
|Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto||había comido||I had eaten|
Pretérito perfecto simple
The pretérito perfecto simple in Spanish is similar to our simple past. It is mainly used to to talk about actions that were completed in the past.
- Hablé con mi madre (I talked to my mum)
- Comimos muy tarde. (We had luch very late)
- Viví 6 años en París (I lived for 6 years in Paris)
To learn more about this tense, its uses, marker words, and irregular conjugations, have a look at our Pretérito perfecto simple page!
Pretérito perfecto compuesto
The pretérito perfecto compuesto is one of several compound tenses used in Spanish and English. As in English, it is used to indicate that the action may be still going on. It is similar to our present perfect.
- Hemos vivido aquí por más de 7 años. (We have lived here for over 7 years.)
- Hemos celebrado las navidades en casa de mi abuela desde que nací. (We have celebrated Christmas in my grandma's house since I was born.)
- No me han dicho nada hasta ahora. (I haven’t got any news so far).
To learn more about this tense, its uses, marker words, and irregular conjugations, have a look at our Pretérito perfecto compuesto page!
The Pretérito imperfecto tense is one of the verb tenses used to talk about the past, especially in descriptions and to say what was happening or used to happen.
- Juan siempre jugaba al fútbol. (Juan always played football.)
- Llamaba a su madre cada día. (She used to call her mum every day.)
- Antes trabajaba mucho. (Before, She worked a lot)
To learn more about this tense, its uses, marker words, and irregular conjugations, have a look at our Pretérito Imperfecto page!
The pretérito pluscuamperfecto is a verb tense that is used to talk about what had happened or had been true at a point in the past.
- No llegó a tiempo. Había perdido el tren. (He was not on time. He had lost the train)
- Antes de ir al colegio habíamos llamado al director (Before going to school we had called the principal)
- La fiesta había comenzado. (The party had started)
To learn more about this tense, its uses, marker words, and irregular conjugations, have a look at our Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto page!
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