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Tener, Poder, Querer & Saber in the Preterite

The complications never end with the preterite tense. Not only are there piles of irregular verbs, but some verbs actually change their meaning when put into the preterite tense from the present.

If you speak Spanish on a regular basis, you will come to understand these differences just by hearing them spoken aloud in the context of a conversation. Right now, all you need to do is familiarize yourself with the idea that some verbs can have a different meaning in the past. The more Spanish you speak, the more you’ll adopt these meanings automatically.

Resources for further reading:

Verb Present Tense Preterite (Past) Tense
conocer conozco aI know (someone) conocí aI met (someone)
poder podemoswe can pudimoswe managed to / no pudimoswe failed to
querer quieroI want, I love quiseI tried to / no quiseI refused to
saber sabemoswe know supimoswe found out
tener tengo fríoI am cold tuve fríoI got cold

Por ejemplo (for example):

Practice Your Pronunciation With Rocket Record

Rocket Record lets you perfect your Spanish pronunciation. Just listen to the native speaker audio and then use the microphone icon to record yourself. Once you’re done, you’ll get a score out of 100 on your pronunciation and can listen to your own audio playback. (Use a headset mic for best results.) Problems? Click here!

¿Podemos entrar a su casa?

Can we come inside your house?

Pudimos entrar a tu casa.

We managed to get inside your house.

Te quiero mucho.

I love you very much.

Quise aprender a tocar el piano.

I tried to learn to play piano.

Conozco a tus padres.

I know your parents.

Conocí a tus padres.

I met your parents.

Once you learn how to form the imperfect tense in the next section, you’ll learn how to give these verbs their original meaning again, as in, “I knew,” “I could,” “I wanted,” et cetera.

Check out more Spanish Verbs for useful info!

See you soon! ¡Hasta pronto!

Mauricio Evlampieff: Rocket Spanish

Make It Stick With Rocket Reinforcement

Reinforce your learning from this lesson with the Rocket Reinforcement activities!