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El Pretérito y El Imperfecto


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This powerpoint is an informational guide to showing how to use the preterite and imperfect tenses in Spanish conversations.

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  • Hello! I would like to mention the importance of the written accents in Latin languages, like Spanish, French, and Portuguese. In the case of "hable/hablé" there might be three tenses and conjugation moods. 1) “hablé” with an accent is “pretérito del modo indicativo” while “hable” without an accent is a desire expressed by using “presente simple del modo subjuntivo”; it can also be a command then it would be “modo imperativo” for the second person -formal- “usted”. Hope you find it useful.
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  • Hi! I'm a Mexican Spanish teacher and I have just found these presentations, which are really good. Only that in all languages, one word may have different meanings. Example: box and box in English... is it a sport or a container? In Spanish, one accent changes the person and the tense. Example: " hablo" (without an accent) means “I speak”, present tense. If you add an accent, "habló", it means he spoke. Look at these: "miro" (I look/present) and "miró": he looked/past. Basically a number of verbs of the first group, ended in -ar, use the same word for "Yo/presente" without an accent, and "él/pretérito" with an accent. I hope you find this comment useful. Virginia Alarcón, Directora de Ases Asesores en Idiomas, Mexico City
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El Pretérito y El Imperfecto

  1. 1. El Pretérito y El Imperfecto
  2. 2. The Formula - Preterit • When dealing with verbs that end in –ar, -er, and –ir, they each look slightly different. • Ejemplo: cantar pretérito (yo): cante
  3. 3. The Formula - Imperfect • Like the preterite, -ar, -er, and –ir verbs conjugate slightly differently. • Imperfecto (yo): cantaba
  4. 4. The Tense Depends on TIME • If the an action does not have a defined time period or is vague then it is imperfecto – I used to watch movies with my family. – Yo miraba películas con mi familia. • If an action has a defined time period, then you should use the preterite. – Yesterday I watched a movie. – Ayer mire una película.
  5. 5. Knowing When to Use Each • When speaking in the past, there are typically two tenses that are used – the preterite and the imperfect.. Ejemplo 1: Last week I worked at the grocery store. (PRETERITE) La semana pasada yo trabaje en el súper mercado. Ejemplo 1: I worked at the grocery store when I was young. (IMPERFECT) Yo trabajaba en el súper mercado cuando era joven.
  6. 6. Questions • When might you use these tenses in the real world? • Can these tenses be used interchangeably? • Does every verb follow the exact formula when dealing with the imperfect?
  7. 7. They can be used together too! • I was cleaning my car when suddenly came the rain. Yo limpiaba mi carro cuando de repente llego la lluvia. The beginning of the rain happened DURING the cleaning of the car. C l e a n i n g t h e c a r The beginning of rain
  8. 8. Other Uses for the Imperfect • Setting up a situation • John was walking across the street when… • John caminaba a través de la calle cuando… • Speaking in the past about stuff that “used” to happen • I used to walk to school every day. • Yo caminaba a mi escuela cada día. • Conveying emotion while specific events are happening • I was happy when John won the game • Estaba (estar) alegre cuando John gano el partido.
  9. 9. Questions • What would a heavy use of the imperfect by a speaker mean? • If you were asked about when you were a baby, what tense would you use? • If you were writing a fairy tale, would you start by using a lot of imperfect or preterit to set the story up?
  10. 10. The Preterite and Imperfect in Conversation Pt.1 • Besides telling a story, it is good to know how to respond to questions and to be able to give your listener the proper context you want to convey. • If you were asked, What did you have for dinner last night? ¿Qué comiste de cena la noche pasada? • You could answer by saying either Comí empanadas la noche pasada. Comía empanadas la noche pasada… Both are not wrong, but the first example simply answers the question, while the second example implies another action happened WHILE you were eating empanadas
  11. 11. • As a speaker, you could also ASK questions using these tenses, but remember that the tenses do change what you are asking • ¿Te gustó la comida? (Did you like the food?)... This simply is a simple question • ¿Te gustaba la comida…? (Did you enjoy food) … This now implies a non specific non singular time. Conversations Pt. 2
  12. 12. Questions • How many specific events can fit into an ongoing event? • Are there multiple ways to answer a question? • How would you as a lawyer, questioning a witness, ask about his whereabouts while a crime occurred?
  13. 13. Video Explanation!