Chapter 8   --   One Way of Expressing Past Time

 

The verb forms which express who, what, and when are made by adding different endings to the stems.   We begin our study of the verbs with the Imperfect Past Tense, because this tense has very few irregular forms, and is the most regular of all the tenses in Spanish.   The Imperfect Past Tense is used to describe a past action that continued in the past for an unspecified time.   In English, this tense is most commonly expressed by using “used to”, “would”, or the form such as “was talking”.   In Spanish, there are two sets of endings, one set for verb group 1, and one set for verb groups 2 and 3, which are added to the verb stems.

 

In group 1, the endings are:   -aba, -abas, -aba, -ábamos, -abais, -aban

Group 1    regular verbs         example: parar, to stop (the stem is par-)

Stem   Ending           Spanish                                     English

par     aba yo paraba I used to stop, was stopping
par     abas parabas You (familiar, singular) used to stop, were stopping
par     aba él paraba He used to stop, was stopping
par     aba ella paraba She used to stop, was stopping
par     aba usted paraba You (polite, singular) used to stop, were stopping
par     aba quién paraba Who used to stop, was stopping
par     ábamos nosotras, - os parábamos We used to stop, were stopping
par     abais vosotras, - os parabais You (familiar, plural) used to stop, were stopping
par     aban ellas, - os paraban They used to stop, were stopping
par     aban ustedes paraban You (polite, plural) used to stop, were stopping
par     aban quienes paraban Who used to stop, were stopping

 In group 1, there are no irregular verbs.

 

In groups 2 and 3, the endings are -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -íais, -ían.

Group 2    regular verbs         example: comer, to eat   (the stem is com-)

Stem  Ending          Spanish                                     English

com ía yo comía I used to eat, was eating
com ías comías You (familiar, singular) used to eat, were eating
com ía él comía He used to eat, was eating
com ía ella comía She used to eat, was eating
com ía usted comía You (polite, singular) used to eat, were eating
com ía quién comía Who used to eat, was eating
com íamos nosotras, -os comíamos We used to eat, were eating
com íais vosotras, -os comíais You (familiar, plural) used to eat, were eating
com ían ellas, -os comían They used to eat, were eating
com ían ustedes comían You (polite, plural) used to eat , were eating
com ían quienes comían Who used to eat, were eating

In group 2, only four verbs are irregular.

          ser ( to be): era, eras, era,eramos, erais, eran          

          ver ( to see): veía, veías, veía, veíamos, veíais, veían.             Like ver :   prever ( to preview)     rever (to review)

 

Group 3    regular verbs         example: pulir, to polish   (the stem is pul-)

Stem  Ending          Spanish                                     English

pul      ía                yo pulía                                    I used to polish, was polishing

pul      ías               pulías                                  You used to polish, were polishing

pul      ía                él pulía                                     He used to polish, was polishing

pul      ía                ella pulía                                   She used to polish, was polishing

pul      ía                usted pulía                                You used to polish, were polishing

pul      ía                 quién pulía                               Who used to polish, was polishing

pul      íamos          nosotras pulíamos                    We used to polish, were polishing

pul      íais              vosotras, - os pulíais                 You used to polish, were polishing

pul      ían              ellas, - os pulían                        They used to polish, were polishing

pul      ían              ustedes pulían                           You used to polish , were polishing

pul      ían              quienes pulían                          Who used to polish, were polishing

 

In group 3, only one verb is irregular.

          ir ( to go): iba, ibas, iba, íbamos, ibais, iban.

 

Because there are very few irregularities, this tense is used more often than the simple past to express a past action.

In English, the verb to be has the same form for the imperfect and simple past tenses. The meaning of the verb is derived from the context of the sentence. For example, "When I was a boy, I used to go swimming often". In this case, the verb form was is in the imperfect tense. In contrast, the sentence "I was sick for two days, but now I am well." shows the use of the verb form was as the simple past tense.

 

This book is available from lulu.com under item number 3352644. Books purchased from Lulu are accompanied by a complete list of irregular verbs and all of their forms.

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