The imperfect tense (Spanish: el pretérito imperfecto or imperfecto) is in addition to the pretérito perfecto simple and pretérito perfecto compuesto, another tense to talk about the past. It is used in descriptions and to say what was happening or used to happen.
The conjugation of the imperfecto is much less complex than the other past tense forms.
The imperfect of regular verbs is formed by dropping the endings -ar, -er, -ir of the infinitive form and adding the following endings:
-ar verbs conjugated
|-er verbs conjugated||-ir verbs conjugated|
|Pronouns||Hablar (to speak)||Comer (to eat)||Vivir (to live)|
|Él / Ella||hablaba||comía||vivía|
Attention: Note, that –er and –ir verbs share the same endings and all forms have a written accent mark.
It is easy to remember that there are only three verbs with irregular conjugations in the imperfect: ir, ser and ver
|Pronouns||Ir (to go)|
|Él / Ella||iba|
|Pronouns||Ser (to be)|
|Él / Ella||era|
|Pronouns||ver (to see)|
|Él / Ella||veía|
To describe continuing, ongoing actions in the past.
To say what used to happen or what you used to do regularly in the past.
To describe people or states of indefinite duration in the past.
To describe simultaneous actions in the past.
To describe what was happening or what the situation was when something else took place.
These expressions indicated the use of imperfecto. Most of the words highlight that the action takes place regularly or is a habit.
|de joven / de niño||when I was young / a child|
|casi nunca||hardly ever|
|de vez en cuando||from time to time|
|todos los días/años||every day/year|
“Garrapata” era un hombre feroz y barrigudo. Tenía una pata de palo y un garfio de acero en vez de mano. Era el terror de Londres. Tenía la nariz gorda y colorada como una berenjena.. Le faltaba media oreja y llevaba un parche negro para taparse un ojo de cristal. Por lo demás, no era demasiado feo.
Extraído de: El Pirata Garrapata. Juan Muñoz Martín
"Garrapata" was a ferocious and pot-bellied man. He had a wooden leg and a steel hook instead of a hand. It was the terror of London. His nose was big and red like an eggplant. He had half an ear and wore a black patch to cover his glass eye. Apart from that, it was not too ugly.
From El Pirata Garrapata. Juan Muñoz Martín
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