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PreteriteImperfect
Past actions with a specific beginning or end. "I wrote the letter." "I played it twice yesterday."Past habitual actions without specific beginning or end. "I used to go to the store." "I wrote many letters."
Actual event in the past. "It was 1pm when she ate."Background for an event in the past. "It was 1pm when she ate."
Interrupting actionInterrupted action
Chain of events. "I washed my hands, brushed my teeth, and went to bed."
Condition/physical/mental states from the past. "There used to be a house here." "He was stupid."
To describe an action that occurred over an unspecified time. "They were washing their hands."
Indicate time or age in the past. "It was 1 o'clock." "He was 10."
  • ayer (yesterday)
  • anteayer (the day before yesterday)
  • anoche (last night)
  • desde el primer momento (from the first moment)
  • durante dos siglos (for two centuries)
  • el otro día (the other day)
  • en ese momento (at that moment)
  • entonces (then)
  • esta (tiempo) (this morning/afternoon/etc)
  • (tiempo pasada (last week/month/etc)
  • hace dos días, años (two days, years ago)
  • ayer por (tiempo) (yesterday morning/afternoon/etc)
  • a menudo (often)
  • a veces (sometimes)
  • cada (tiempo) (every day/week/etc)
  • con frecuencia (frequently)
  • de vez en cuando (from time to time)
  • en aquella época (at that time)
  • frecuentemente (frequently)
  • generalmente (usually)
  • muchas veces (many times)
  • mucho (a lot)
  • nunca (never)
  • por un rato (for awhile)
  • siempre (always)
  • tantas veces (so many times)
  • todas (tiempo) (every week/day/etc)
  • varias veces (several times)
  • Some verbs change their meangings depending on the past tense used.
    PreteriteImperfect
    conocerto have met someoneto have known someone
    saberto have found out somethingto have known something
    querertriedwanted
    no quererrefuseddidn't want
    podermanaged to (suceeded)was able to/capable of
    no poderfailed towasn't able to/not capable