Spanish 1230 Amigo uses of the preterite

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Spanish 1230 Amigo


Act or state viewed as completed; we see the end of the action.

      • To state what happened or what somebody did at a particular time. We find time expressions such as: ayer, anteayer, anoche, la semana pasada, hace dos semanas, el año pasado, en 1973, para su cumpleaños, etc.

I took a bath last night. > ______________________ anoche.

I went to Perú in 1, 999. > ________________ a Perú en 1.999.

      • To state that an action or event occurred several times.

They said goodbye 3 times. > _______________________ tres veces.

      • To sum up an experience or day’s events.

Yesterday was a fantastic day.> Ayer ________________ un día fantástico.

Las week we had good weather. > La semana pasada ______________ buen tiempo.

      • To express a series of actions (primero, luego, después, finalmente, etc)

Isabel woke up, got up, and got dressed.

Isabel _________________, ________________ y _________________

First we drove and then we took the train.

Primero ___________________ y luego ________________ el tren.

      • After the expression “la última vez que”.

They had a lot of fun the last time they came to our house.

________________ mucho la última vez que _____________a nuestra casa.

Beginning of act or state; we see the beginning of the action.

The child began to cry when we arrived.

El niño______________ a llorar cuando llegamos.

I suddenly felt sick.

De repente ___________________enferma.

A reaction:I got scared [asustarse] when I saw him.

____________________cuando lo vi.

After taking a bath, I felt better.

Después de bañarme, ____________________ mejor.

When an action took place for a specific period of time: we see the beginning and the end of the action.
My sister slept for 3 hours > Mi hermana _________________ por 3 horas.
I studied Spanish for 2 years in Highchool. >

__________________ español por dos años en la escuela secundaria.


There are different ways to describe the use of the imperfect, but in most cases we use this tense to

focus on the middle of the action.
State or situation in progress.
The cat was sleeping under the bed. > El gato ___________________ debajo de la cama.
My mother was cooking, my sister was reading, and I was doing my homework.

Mi madre ______________, mi hermana ________________, y yo ______________ mi tarea.

To describe people, places, or things (as they usually were; in the middle of being that way).

  • Physical appearance:

My brother was very short when he was in Middle School.>

Mi hermano ___________muy bajo cuando ____________en el colegio.

  • Non-physical characteristics:

Jason was intelligent and hardworking. > Jason __________ listo y trabajador.

  • Mental, physical and emotional states:

Pablo was very sick and furious when we arrived. >

Pablo_______________ muy enfermo y furioso cuando llegamos.

  • Personal information: age, name, nationality, religion, etc.

I was twenty when I met her. > _____________veinte años cuando la conocí.

To give background information (to establish the context):

It was a cold December morning. It was snowing and there was nobody in the streets.

_______ una mañana fría de diciembre. ________________ y no _______________ nadie en

las calles.

This is a story about a boy named Paul. He was tall and thin and everybody said that he looked like his mother.
Ésta es la historia de un niño llamado Paul. _________ alto y delgado y todo el mundo __________

que ___________________ a su madre.

Habitual actions in the past:

When I was little, my grandparents would take me to Disneyland every summer. >

Cuando __________pequeña, mis abuelos me ______________a Disneilandia todos los veranos.

He used to go outside when it rained. >

_________________ cuando ___________________.
They never cleaned their apartment when they didn’t have guests.

Nunca _______________ el apartamento cuando no tenían invitados.

For indirect discourse (to report about someone else said):
My cousin said that he had to go to see her brother.

Mi prima dijo que _________________ que ir a ver a su hermano.

To express future in relation to the rest of the narration in the past:
I was feeling sad because my ex-boyfriend was going to get married that weekend.

Me sentía triste porque mi ex-novio ____________________ ese fin de semana.

That night I was going to have dinner with my friends. > Esa noche _________ a cenar con mis amigos.

NOTE: With action that was in progress that is interrupted by another action >

Use the imperfect for the action in progress and the preterite for the action that interrupts:

I was watching TV when my mother arrived.

____________la televisión cuando mi madre ____________.

I was reading when the phone rang (sonar).

_____________ cuando _____________ el teléfono.

PRÁCTICA: Traduce solamente los verbos subrayados. Explica por qué usas pretérito o imperfecto.

  1. It was 3 o’clock. It was rainy and windy.

  1. I was watching TV when suddenly somebody called me on the phone.

  1. The students were talking and the teacher was listening.

  1. You [all] played basketball last week.

  1. When I was a child, I would always read a book with my mother.

  1. I saw your mother 3 months ago.

  1. My nephew got up and opened the door.

  1. Ten years ago, all the houses in my neighborhood were white.

  1. My cousin went out (salir) with his boyfriend for 10 years.

  1. We decided not to go because it was going to rain.

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