Unit 3.1

Preterite indefinite



The preterite indefinite [préterito indefinido] is a verb tense used to talk about past actions that are not related to the present time, actions that have already finished.


The indicative is one of the verbal modes or categories in which the different tenses of the verb are grouped (present, past, future, etc.). It conveys authentic information.

The preterite indefinite has this structure:

(Sujeto +) verbo [raíz + desinencia] + …

The verb root is the segment that remains after the ending (-ar, -er, -ir) of the infinitive has been removed (e.g. the root of the verb hablar is habl-).

The endings of infinitive verbs are as follows:

  • infinitive verbs ending in -ar:  -é, -aste, -ó, -amos, -asteis, -aron;
  • infinitive verbs ending in -er/-ir: -í, -iste, -ió, -imos, -isteis, -ieron.

The three conjugations in the preterite indefinite of regular verbs are as follows:

Persona Hablar (-AR) Comer (-ER) Vivir (-IR)
Yo hablé comí viví
hablaste comiste viviste
Él/Ella/Usted habló com viv
Nosotros/-as hablamos comimos vivimos
Vosotros/-as hablasteis comisteis vivisteis
Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes hablaron comieron vivieron


  • Hablé con el dueño de la frutería;
  • Comiste la fruta que te regaló ayer el frutero;
  • Vivió del dinero que le daba el estanco toda su vida;
  • Hablamos en la peluquería mientras nos cortaban el pelo;
  • Comisteis el pan que os horneó la semana pasada el panadero;
  • Vivieron la música gracias a esa tienda de discos.


The preterite indefinite is used:

  • to speak of past actions that have already been completed and that occurred at a precise moment in time and have no relation to the present;
  • to talk about several actions that happened one after the other in the past;
  • in biographies and narratives;
  • with specific time markers: ayer; anoche, anteayer; hace un día/año/mes, la semana pasada, el mes/verano/año pasado, el otro día, un día, a finales del año pasado, la primera/segunda vez que…, en [año/mes], aquel/ese/el otro día, etc.


The preterite indefinite is a verb tense used to talk about past actions not related to the present time, actions that are already finished. In Spanish, the preterite indefinite is usually used with markers such as: ayer, anoche, hace un día/año, la semana pasada, el mes pasadoel otro día

Its formula is:
(Subject +) Verb + complement + …

For example:
— «Ayer comí en casa de mis padres.» = Ayer is a past tense marker not related to the present;
— «La semana pasada hablasteis con la directora?» = La semana pasada is a past tense marker not related to the present.

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


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