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Professor Jason - Imperfect vs Preterit




Preterite vs imperfect

When to use preterite:

1/.In a nutshell, use it  where we quite a lot of information. We know a lot about something.

I ordered a salad - is something that happened in the past and it is a completed action.

Yo pedi una enselada

If you have clear time frames.
I lived in London for four years. - Yo vivi en Londres por 4 anos

I played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2004- Yo jugue para Manchester United desde 2001 hasta 2004.

He was here for two days- el establo aqui por dos dias

A series of actions or routines.
Today I was busy, I cleaned the house, danced salsa and watched  a movie.- Hoy estuve occupado. Yo limpie la casa, baile salsa y mire una pelicula.

Can be used to illustrate sudden changes e.g. Getting up or sitting down
When the queen entreated the building, everyone stood up-Cuando el Reina entro el edificio todos se leventaron

To talk about sickness, If someone gets sick or injured

Me lastime - I got injured

Carlos se enfermo- Carlos got sick.

Interrupted action.

I was watching Tv and my girlfriend rang.

Miraba la television y mi novia me llamo.

I was having lunch and all of a sudden I saw an eagle

estaba almorzando y de repente vi una aguila


Imperfect is used to describe events that are vague

I used to live in London-Yo Vivia en Londres.

I was having lunch - estaba almorzando

Can be used to describe past continuous that describe background information

I was playing and all of a sudden my friend collapsed.

Estaba jugando y de repente mi amigo se derrumbó

Can be used to describe actions that took place all the time in the past. I used to ....

I used to visit my grandmother every saturday- Visitaba mi Abuela todos los sábados

When referring to age:

When I was 16 I used to play football- Cuando tenía 16 años jugaba el fútbol

When referring to personal characteristics:-

Cuando era Niño era travieso y simpático

The imperfect used to refer to weather

Estaba lluviendo hacia sol

For time always use

I was 1 o'clock - Era la una

I was 5 o'clock when she came in - Eran las cinca cuando Ella entró a dentro


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