The Imperfect

The Imperfect is typically used to describe something in the past.

The Imperfect Basics

The regular conjugation simply consists of changing the verb endings.

 Verb Endings 
-ar-er/-ir
yo-aba-ía
-abas-ías
él, ella, usted-aba-ía
nosotros/as-ábamos-íamos
vosotros/as-abais-íais
ellos, ellas, ustedes-aban-ían

TIP: There are no conjugations in the Imperfect tense that have changes in the stem/root of the verb.

The Imperfect – Irregular Form

 irserver
yoibaeraveía
ibaserasveías
él, ella, ustedibaeraveía
nosotros/asíbamoséramosveíamos
vosotros/asibaiseraisveíais
ellos, ellas, ustedesibaneranveían

Uses of the Imperfect Tense

The Imperfect is used for:

  1. describing a repeated or recurring action in the past.
  2. describing a situation that took place in the past.

TIP: The Spanish imperfect is like the English expression used to + infinitive. It is also like was/were + present participle (-ing) in English.

Imperfect vs Preterit

  • The Imperfect is used to describe memories.
  • The preterit is used to narrate events.
  • The preterit is used to discuss periods of time that are precisely defined. The imperfect is used when describing indefinite periods of time.
  • The preterit indicates a change in relation to a given habit or situation.

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