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Preterite and Imperfect Verbs. …the tricky past is present. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. - Lesley P. Hartley, The Go-Between , 1953. Uses for Preterite and Imperfect. Other situations. Something was happening, when an action ‘interrupted’ it.

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Preterite and imperfect verbs

Preterite and Imperfect Verbs

…the tricky past is present

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

- Lesley P. Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953

Other situations
Other situations

  • Something was happening, when an action ‘interrupted’ it.

    • The ongoing action is imperfect, and the action that ‘interrupts’ is preterite.

  • In a long narrative.

    • The part that seems to be descriptive, background info is imperfect, while actions and specific events are preterite.


While I was walking in Florida, I saw a gator (el caimán).

Mientras caminaba en Florida, vi a un caimán.

(interruption of an ongoing action)


I left Florida, and went

to Belize. It was sunny

when I arrived!

Salí de Florida, y fui a Belize. Hacía mucho sol cuando llegué.

(action, weather, action)


It was four o’clock when my mom sent me an e-mail.

She was sad, because she missed (echar de menos) me.

Eran las cuatro cuando mi madre me mandó un e-mail.

Estaba triste, porque me echaba de menos.

(time, action, emotion, emotion)

Preterite and imperfect verbs

Yolanda’s Scary Experience

Preterite and Imperfect - As you view this video of Yolanda’s surprising experience as a hotel receptionist, write down as many preterite and imperfect verbs as you hear. After the video, we will go through them together and discuss why they were used.

More practice
More Practice

W e b R e s o u r c e s

Preterite and Imperfect Practice

Grammar Help

Preterite vs. Imperfect

Online Verb Tutorial