This week on the Real Fast Spanish Tips podcast we will be looking at the past imperfect tense.
There are many different past tenses in Spanish. And as you build your knowledge you will need to become familiar with, at least, the most common ones.
One of the first recommendations that I give to developing Spanish students is that should always look to improve their vocabulary before their grammar. When you know more vocabulary you can express and understand more ideas. But, we are now at tip number 49, which means we should be adding more grammar to your Spanish toolkit.
Another one of the recommendations that I like to give is that Spanish students should first become familiar with the present perfect tense. I talked about this in tip number 15 A Hack For The Past.
The reason I suggest that Spanish students become familiar with the present perfect tense is that it is easy to form. And once you know how you can always use it if you can remember how to conjugate the verb in any of the other past tenses. But if you are comfortable with the present perfect tense then it’s time to get to know the past imperfect.
There are a few rules for using the past imperfect tense. But the general rule you need to know is that it is used when there is no defined start and end time for the action in the past.
To explain further, the past imperfect tense is used in three common examples:
1. Talking about things that ‘used’ to happen in the past. These are things that may have happened habitually.
2. Talking about what happened within a set time frame.
3. Setting the scene as in a novel.
Examples from the episode:
The past imperfect of ‘hablar’:
I spoke – Yo hablaba.
You spoke – Tú hablabas.
He spoke – Él hablaba.
We spoke – Nosotros hablábamos.
You-all spoke – Vosotros hablabais.
They spoke – Ellos hablaban.
The past imperfect of ‘vivir’:
I lived – Yo vivía.
You lived – Tú vivías.
He lived – Él vivía.
We lived – Nosotros vivíamos.
You-all lived – Vosotros vivíais.
They lived – Ellos vivían.
What time were we going to meet tonight? – ¿A que hora íbamos a quedar esta noche?
I thought that we were going to meet at six – Pensaba que íbamos a quedar a las seis.
It was a dark night – Era una noche oscura.
It was raining – Estaba lloviendo.
Sliced bread – Pan bimbo.
You can get access to the podcast transcripts and english translations here.
This week in the culture section:
Arantxa recommended a Spanish movie this week called Fermat’s Room. And she recommended this movie because the director is one of here close friends.
You can get access to the movie here with SBS on-demand, it is an Australian international cultural television station.
How else you can you use the past imperfect in Spanish?
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