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Imperfect vs Preterite Tense in Spanish

Spanish Story – Imperfect v Preterite Tenses

Practice in a short story about a puppy
Video Clip  +  Online Quiz   about a puppy growing up.
The ‘story’ is in the imperfect tense, with statements in the preterite tense to say what happened during the time that the puppy was growing up.


1.  The Preterite Tense  is used for precise things that happened and ended.
2.  The Imperfect Tense is used:
– to describe things in the past
– to talk about things that happened during a period of time
– to say what was happening or what things were like when something more precise happened (preterite tense)
La niña estaba jugando cuando llegó su padre.
The girl was playing when her father arrived

Verbs in the Story

IR  –  to go
Iba   –  he/she was going (imperfect)
Fue  – he/she went (preterite)

LLEGAR – to arrive
llegaba – he arrived (imperfect)
llegó – he arrived (preterite)

CONOCER – to meet, get to know
Conocía  – I knew (imperfect)
Conocí    – I knew (preterite)

TENER – to have (+to be)
Tenía  – he/she had/was (imperfect)
Tuvo   – he/she had/was (preterite)

SER  – to be
Era   – he/she was (imperfect)
Fue   – he/she was (preterite)

SACAR – to take (a photo), to take out
Sacaba    – I took (imperfect)
Saqué      – I took (preterite)

QUERER – to want
Quería – he/she wanted (imperfect)
Quiso   – he/she wanted (preterite)

CRECER – to grow
Crecía   – he/she grew (imperfect)
Creció   – he/she grew (preterite)


Video Transcript

Saqué esta foto de Maggie el día de su llegada.
Tenía siete semanas.
¡Sus patas eran grandes!
Iba a crecer mucho.
Era tímida.
Tenía miedo del jardín.
Quería muchos abrazos.
¡Le gustaba jugar en la ropa sucia!
¡Era encantadora!
¡Creció muy rápido!
En esta foto tenía solo ocho días!
Su madre tuvo ocho cachorros.
Maggie fue la más pequeña de todos.
Su padre era muy guapo.
Fuimos a verla por primera vez cuando tenía cuatro semanas.
¡Qué linda era!

– – – –

Read the story above and translate it into English.

Look at these two sentences in the preterite tense:
‘Su madre tuvo ocho cachorros.  Maggie fue la más pequeña de todos’.
The use of ‘fue’ is because Maggie was the smallest at that particular (finished) event: When they were born!

Online Quiz

This quiz is also available on its own separate page:
Online Quiz

image for imperfect tense practice in Spanish

For more practice using the imperfect tense in Spanish, this time in a short story set in 1930s Spain, go to:
Imperfect Tense in Spanish Story Practice