Unit 3.2

Irregularities in the Imperfect Preterite

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Introduction

The imperfect preterite [pretérito imperfeto] is a verb tense used to express past actions that are habitual, repeated or continuous. It is also used to make past descriptions.

Ser, ver and ir are the only three irregularities [irregularidades] of the preterite imperfect.

Form

The imperfect preterite has this structure:
(Subject +) Verb [root + endings] + …

Ser, ver and ir are irregular verbs. In the imperfect preterite, they are conjugated like this:

Persona Ser Ver Ir
Yo era veía iba
eras veías ibas
Él/Ella/Usted era veía iba
Nosotros/-as éramos veíamos íbamos
Vosotros/-as erais veíais ibais
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes eran veían iban

 

Example

  • Antes era de los que viajan en el bus estando sentado, pero ahora voy de pie;
  • ¿Me veías pasear por el parque desde la ventana?
  • A menudo ella iba a andar al puerto, con las gaviotas;
  • Cuando éramos niños solíamos cruzar el canal a nado;
  • Os veíais en las escaleras cuando ella subía y tú bajabas;
  • Cuando no iban muchos a la cafetería, se llevaban unas cartas para jugar al mus.

Use

The imperfect preterite is used to:

  • describe objects, people, places or time in the past;
  • express past actions that are habitual, repetitive or long-lasting at a particular time in the past;
  • refer to the circumstances surrounding a past event.

Summary

The preterite imperfect is a verb tense used to express past actions, which are habitual, repeated or continuous. It is also used to make past descriptions.

In Spanish, the verbs ser, ver, ir are irregular in the imperfect past tense.

For example:
— «Cuando era niña, iba a clases de baile» = irregular verbs ser and ir in the first person singular (=yo);
— «¿Estabas allí? ¡No te veía= irregular verb ver in the first person singular (=yo).

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on the {Example} sections, which shows you the usage in context.

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