Pretérito perfecto simple (indefinido) in Spanish
The pretérito perfecto simple is a form of the verb that is used to talk about actions that were completed in the past in Spanish. It often corresponds to the simple past in English, as in I bought a new bike (compré una bicicleta nueva).
- 1.What is the pretérito perfecto simple (simple past) in Spanish?
- 2.Regular and irregular verb conjugations
- 2.1.Regular conjugation of the pretérito perfecto simple
- 2.2.Irregular conjugation of the pretérito perfecto simple
- 2.2.1.Completely irregular verbs
- 2.2.2.Verbs with spelling changes
- 2.2.3.Verbs ending in -car: c → qu
- 2.2.4.Verbs ending in -gar: g → gu
- 2.2.5.Verbs ending in -zar: z→ c
- 2.2.6.Other spelling changes i → y
- 2.2.7.Stem-changing verbs
- 2.2.8.e → i
- 3.When to use the pretérito perfecto simple
- 3.1.Completed actions in the past
- 3.2.Continuous actions in the past
- 3.3.Series of actions in the past
- 3.4.Actions that are not repeated
- 4.Marker words of the pretérito perfecto simple
- 5.Examples sentences
- 6.Example text
- 8.1.Use the pretérito perfecto simple to complete the sentences.
- 8.2.¿Do you know how to conjugate irregular verbs in Pretérito Perfecto Simple?
- 8.3.Exercise to practice the Pretérito perfecto simple
What is the pretérito perfecto simple (simple past) in Spanish?
The simple past (Spanish: el pretérito perfecto simple) is one of the most used past tenses in Spanish. We use it to talk about:
- completed actions in the past.
- actions completed at a definite, specific moment in the past
Regular and irregular verb conjugations
In Spanish there are regular and irregular forms.
- regular forms: follow a pattern
- irregular forms: do not follow the patterns and sometimes they change the root of the verb, the endings or both
Regular conjugation of the pretérito perfecto simple
The regular conjugation is formed by dropping the endings -ar, -er, -ir of the infinitive form and adding the following endings:
- for verbs ending in -ar with -é, -aste, -ó, -amos, -asteis, -aron
- for verbs ending in -er, with -í, -iste, -ió, -imos, -isteis, -ieron
- for verbs ending in -ir, with -í, -iste, -ió, -imos, -isteis, -ieron
|pronouns||-ar verbs conjugated||-er verbs conjugated||-ir verbs conjugated|
|Hablar (to speak)||Comer (to eat)||Vivir (to live)|
- Hablé con mi madre. (I spoke to my mum)
- Comimos muy tarde. (We had luch very late)
- Viví 6 años en París (I lived for 6 years in Paris)
Attention: Note, that the first and third persons singular have tilde (written accent mark). This can change the meaning and the subject of a sentence.
- With a tilde: Cantó una canción. (He/She sang a song)
- Without a tilde: Canto una canción. (I sing a song)
Irregular conjugation of the pretérito perfecto simple
Irregular conjugations need to be memorized by heard. We have different types of irregular verbs:
- Completely irregular verbs
- Verbs with spelling changes
- Stem-changing verbs
Completely irregular verbs
Here you have some examples of the most common verbs that are completely irregular:
|ser (to be)|
|ir (to go)|
|dar (to give)|
|ver (to see)|
|estar (to be)|
|tener (to have)|
|poder (can/ to be able to)|
|poner (to put)|
|querer (to want)|
|hacer (to do/to make)|
|decir (to say)|
|saber (to know)|
- No pude ir. (I couldn't go)
- Estuve enferma la semana pasada. (I was ill last week)
- Hizo un pastel de cumpleaños. (She made a birthday cake)
Verbs with spelling changes
Some changes are required because of Spanish spelling rules to keep the sound of the consonants c and g with que and gue as well as to maintain the soft sound before i and e with c. Note that this changes apply to the yo form only.
Verbs ending in -car: c → qu
|Infinitive in -car||First-person singular (yo)|
|explicar (to explain)||expliqué (explicaste, explicó…)|
|practicar (to practice)||practiqué (practicaste, practicó…)|
|buscar (to search/to look for)||busqué (buscaste, buscó…)|
|tocar (to touch)||toqué (tocaste, tocó…)|
Verbs ending in -gar: g → gu
|Infinitive in -gar||First-person singular (yo)|
|llegar (to arrive)||llegué (llegaste, llegó…)|
|jugar (to play)||jugué (jugaste, jugó…)|
|negar (to deny)||negué (negaste, negó…)|
|pagar (to pay)||pagué (pagaste, pagó…)|
Verbs ending in -zar: z→ c
|Infinitive in -zar||First-person singular (yo)|
|comenzar (to begin)||comencé (comenzaste, comenzó…)|
|realizar (to perform)||realicé (realizaste, realizó…)|
|empezar (to begin)||empecé (empezaste, empezó…)|
|almorzar (to have lunch)||almorcé (almorzaste, almorzó…)|
Other spelling changes i → y
In order to maintain the pronunciation of some verbs ending in -er or -ir, the 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural change i→ y Here are some examples:
|leer (to read)||oir (to hear)||creer (to believe)|
|Ellos, ellas, ustedes||leyeron||oyeron||creyeron|
As in the present tense, there is a pattern of stem-changes in the Spanish verb conjugations. Remember that:
- -ar verbs with stem-changes in the present tense do not have stem-changes in the past.
- -ir verbs with stem changes in the present tense also have stem changes in the past tense in two ways: e → i and o→u
e → i
|elegir (to choose)||mentir (to lie)||reir (to laugh)|
|Ellos, ellas, ustedes||eligieron||mintieron||rieron|
|repetir (to repeat)||pedir (to ask for)||preferir (to prefer)|
|Ellos, ellas, ustedes||repitieron||pidieron||prefirieron|
In the verbs dormir and morir, in the 3 persons singular and 3rd person plural, the root vowel o changes to u
|dormir (to sleep)||morir (to die)|
|Ellos, ellas, ustedes||durmieron||murieron|
When to use the pretérito perfecto simple
In Spanish we use different types of past tenses to communicate different ideas. Here you have the situations where you use the pretérito perfecto simple (simple past):
Completed actions in the past
An action completed at a specific moment in the past.
- El avión aterrizó a las doce en punto. (The plane landed at four o’clock.)
- Mi hermana nació el 6 de mayo de 1994. (My sister was born on May 6th 1994.)
Continuous actions in the past
For an action or event that lasted for a specific period of time when you can determine how long the action took place.
- Esperó dos horas en la estación. (He waited for two hours at the station).
- Habló durante una hora sin parar. (He spoke for one hour non stop)
Series of actions in the past
For series of actions or events completed in the past even if you cannot determine when these actions took place or for how long.
- Me levanté, desayuné, me duché y me fui a trabajar. (I woke up, had breakfast, took a shower and went to work.)
- Llegué, abrí la puerta y ví la fiesta sorpresa. (I arrived, opened the door and saw the suprise party.)
Actions that are not repeated
For actions that are not usually repeated using the following expressions:
|cumplir años||to turn a specific age|
Mi hija cumplió 4 años.My daughter turned 4.
|darse cuenta de||to realize|
Me di cuenta de que estaba equivocada.I realised I was wrong.
Decidí mudarme a París.
I decided to move to Paris.
Roentgen descubrió los rayos X en 1895.Roentgen discovered X-rays in 1895.
Me gradué hace varios años.I graduated a few years ago
Él murió a los 85 años.
He died at 85 years of age.
Marker words of the pretérito perfecto simple
With these words we will always use the pretérito perfecto simple (simple past):
|la semana pasada||last week|
|el año pasado||last year|
|el 5 de diciembre de 1985||December, 5th 1985|
|hace 3 días||3 days ago|
|en el año 2006||in 2006|
- El 5 de Diciembre fue mi cumpleaños. (My birthday was the 5th of december.)
- Apareció de repente. (He suddenly showed up)
- Ayer comí pasta. (I had pasta yesterday)
Mi primer viaje a Francia me llevó a París, donde estuve tres semanas. En el aeropuerto nos esperó la guía Vanessa que nos llevó a nuestro apartamento. Primero pasamos unos días en el norte de la ciudad. Allí hicimos un tour por Montmartre, el barrio de los artistas, ubicado en una colina. Allí estuvimos cuatro días.
My first trip to France took me to Paris, where I stayed for three weeks. At the airport we were greeted by Vanessa, the guide who took us to our apartment. First we spent a few days in the north of the city. There, we did a tour of Montmartre, the neighborhood of the artists, located on a hill. We stayed there for four days.
- Use the pretérito perfecto simple to complete the sentences.
- ¿Do you know how to conjugate irregular verbs in Pretérito Perfecto Simple?
- Exercise to practice the Pretérito perfecto simple
Use the pretérito perfecto simple to complete the sentences.
¿Do you know how to conjugate irregular verbs in Pretérito Perfecto Simple?
Exercise to practice the Pretérito perfecto simple
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