Spanish Imperfect Tense


There are only two sets of endings for regular imperfect verbs in Spanish, one for -ar verbs and one for both -er and -ir verbs. To conjugate a regular verb in the imperfect tense in Spanish, simply remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) and add the imperfect ending that matches the subject.

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As we learned in our previous lesson about the Preterit Tense, we have two forms of the past tense in Spanish: The Preterit Tense and The Imperfect Tense. We have covered the Preterit Tense and all of its irregulars so now it’s time to learn about the Imperfect Tense!

The Imperfect Tense in Spanish is a tense used for actions that are recurring, that do not have a specific start or end, or that were happening when something else interrupted (Preterit Tense). Think about this tense as being something that happened “over and over” while the Preterit Tense was “one and done”.

Let’s look at a few examples in English. The bold parts are the verbs that will be conjugated in the Imperfect Tense:

used to watch Barney as a child.

When he was a kid, he always traveled to Texas.

We were watching tv when the power suddenly went out!

How to conjugate in the Imperfect Tense

The endings for -AR verbs in the Imperfect Tense


NOTE: The endings for the yo and él/ella/usted forms are the same. This means the only way to tell the difference is based on the context of the sentence in which it’s used.

The endings for -ER and -IR verbs in the Imperfect Tense


NOTE: The endings for the yo and él/ella/usted forms are the same. This means the only way to tell the difference is based on the context of the sentence in which it’s used. ALSO, the accent on the first “i” in each of these endings must have an accent. 

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.