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REGULAR PRETERITE VERBS




The preterite tense is used to refer to actions that occurred at a fixed point in time.
I called at 1:00.


Llamé
 a la una.

The preterite tense is also used to refer to actions in the past that were performed a specific number of times.


I called you twice.
Te
 llamé dos veces.
The preterite tense is also used to refer to actions that occurred during a specific enclosed period of time.
He lived there for 5 years.


Él
 vivió allí por cinco años.

The preterite is also used for actions that are part of a chain of events.


I bought a hat, sat down on a bench and fell asleep.


Compré
 un sombrero, me senté en un banco y me dormí.

The preterite is also used for sudden changes of mood, feelings or opinions.


At that moment, I was not afraid.
En ese momento, no
 tuve miedo.
The preterite is frequently associated with phrases that pinpoint a particular occasion or specific time frame.
ayer
yesterday

ayer por la mañana
yesterday morning
ayer por la tarde
yesterday afternoon

anteayer
the day before yesterday

anoche
last night


desde el primer momento
from the first moment

después
afterwards

durante dos siglos
for two centuries

el año pasado 
last year

el lunes por la noche
Monday night

el mes pasado
last month

el otro día
the other day

en ese momento 
at that moment

entonces
then

esta mañana
this morning

esta tarde
this afternoon

hace dos días, años
two days, years ago

la semana pasada
last week

If the action is in the past, and you can determine precisely when it occurred, or how many times it occurred, then you will use the preterite.

Regular forms of the preterite are formed by adding the following endings to the stem of the verb:



-ar verbs

example: hablar

é
aste
ó
amos
asteis
aron

hablé
hablaste
habló
hablamos
hablasteis
hablaron



-er verbs, -ir verbs

examples: comer, vivir

í
iste

imos
isteis
ieron

comí
comiste
comió
comimos
comisteis
comieron

viví
viviste


vivió
vivimos
vivisteis
vivieron

There are a fair number of verbs with irregular conjugation forms in the Preterite.
These Irregular forms in the Preterite are said to have "radical" changes, that is, vowel and consonant changes in the root (or stem of the verb.)
Furthermore, these changes occur in all of the conjugations (including the nosotros form.) These Irregular preterite changes are NOT for orthographic (spelling) reasons (like the verbs ending in -Car, -Gar and -Zar) nor are the changes in vowels similar to regular stem-changing verbs which affect certain -Ir conjugations in the Preterite.
Verbs which have an Irregular Preterite form have their own conjugation - different from the established -Ar, -Er/-Ir Preterite conjugation pattern.

All Verbs with grossly irregular changes in the Preterite follow this conjugation:




-Ar, -Er, -Ir Irregular Verbs


Yo

-e



-iste

Él, ella, usted

-o

Nosotros

-imos

Ellos, ellas, ustedes

 


-ieron*

* Verbs with a "J" at the end of the stem drop the "i" and just use: -eron



Notice that none of these conjugation endings have accent marks!

Here are some common Irregular verbs in the Preterite:




Yo

él, ella, usted

nosotros

ellos, ellas, ustedes

Andar


anduve

anduviste

anduvo

anduvimos

anduvieron

Conducir*


conduje

condujiste

condujo

condujimos

condujeron

Decir*


dije

dijiste

dijo

dijimos

dijeron

Estar


estuve

estuviste

estuvo

estuvimos

estuvieron

Hacer


hice

hiciste

hizo

hicimos

hicieron

Poner


puse

pusiste

puso

pusimos

pusieron

Poder


pude

pudiste

pudo

pudimos

pudieron

Querer


quise

quisiste

quiso

quisimos

quisieron

Saber


supe

supiste

supo

supimos

supieron

Tener


tuve

tuviste

tuvo

tuvimos

tuvieron

Traer*


traje

trajiste

trajo

trajimos

trajeron

Venir


vine

viniste

vino

vinimos

vinieron

Hacer in the third person singular changes out the "c" for a "z" to reflect the correct pronunciation.

Irregulars which use a "J" in the Preterite only add "-eron" (NOT "-ieron") to the third-person plural


Other verbs which are irregular in the Preterite

Dar


di

diste

dio

dimos

dieron

Dar is often humorously referred to as the "cross-dressing" verb, because in the PreteriteDar takes on the -Er/-Ir preterite verb endings rather than -Ar verb endings.



Ver


vi

viste

vio

vimos

vieron

Verbs with only 2 or 3 letters, such as Dar, Ser, Ir and Ver, also do not wear accent marks in the Preterite.

Remember that Spanish only uses accent marks when required for pronunciation or differentiation.





Ir & Ser


fui

fuiste

fue

fuimos

fueron

Notice that Ir and Ser share the same forms in the Preterite. This is not as confusing as it may appear. Since Ser refers to existence and identification, it is nearly impossible to use this in the Preterite which handles only completed actions. This preterite conjugation form will nearly always be Ir (an action verb) rather than Ser (a descriptive verb) which is usually conjugated in the Imperfect Past tense.

Also the context of a sentence or a conversation will let you know which is being used. For example:



  • Fui al supermercado clearly means "I went to the supermarket," not *"I was to the supermarket."

While there are more irregulars in the Preterite past tense than in any other tense, the good news is that Spanish makes up for it with a 99.99% regular Imperfect past tense!

Fin
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