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9.1.7: G.2.2- The Preterite (el pretérito)

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    Regular Forms

    1. -ar verbs
      yo hablé
      él/ella/Ud. habló
      nosotros/as hablamos
      vosotros/as hablasteis
      ellos/ellas/Uds. hablaron
    2. -er and -ir verbs
      Comer Vivir
      yo comí viví
      comiste viviste
      él/ella/Ud. com viv
      nosotros/as comimos vivimos
      vosotros/as comisteis vivisteis
      ellos/ellas/Uds. comieron vivieron

    Irregular Forms

    1. A change in 3rd person singular (él/ella/Ud.) and 3rd person plural (ellos/as/Uds.):
      e → i o → u i → y
      Pedir Morir Influir
      yo pedí morí influí
      pediste moriste influiste
      él/ella/Ud. pidió murió influyó
      nosotros/as pedimos morimos influimos
      vosotros/as pedisteis moristeis influisteis
      ellos/ellas/Uds. pidieron murieron influyeron

      Other verbs that follow a similar pattern:

      e → i o → u i → y
      despedirse dormir leer
      divertirse oír
      preferir contribuir
      vestirse huir
      sentirse distribuir
    2. A change in spelling to maintain the correct sound in the 1st person singular (yo):
      c → qu g → gu z → c gu → gü
      yo expliqué llegué empecé averié

      Other verbs that follow a similar pattern:

      c → qu g → gu z → c gu → gü
      explicar llegar empezar averiguar
      buscar jugar comenzar atestiguar
      indicar pagar cruzar
    3. A verb that adopts a different stem, and will usually have these endings (note that endings do not have an accent):
      Andar → Anduv-
      yo -e anduve
      -iste anduviste
      él/ella/Ud. -o anduvo
      nosotros/as -imos anduvimos
      vosotros/as -isteis anduvisteis
      ellos/ellas/Uds. -ieron anduvieron

      Other verbs that also have a stem change:

      Verb Stem
      estar estuv-
      haber hub-
      poder pud-
      poner pus-
      saber sup-
      tener tuv
      hacer hic- (hiz- in 3rd singular)
      querer quis-
      venir vin-
      conducir conduj-
      decir dij-
      producir produj-
      traducir traduj-
      traer traj-
    4. Completely irregular forms:
      ir ser ver dar
      yo fui fui vi di
      fuiste fuiste viste diste
      él/ella/Ud. fue fue vio dio
      nosotros/as fuimos fuimos vimos dimos
      vosotros/as fuisteis fuisteis visteis disteis
      ellos/ellas/Uds. fueron fueron vieron dieron

    Uses of the Preterite

    To indicate the beginning or end of an action, even or state in the past. There is no emphasis on the duration, but rather on a specific moment in time.


    -- El verano pasado Katie fue a España.
    Last summer Katie went to Spain.

    --Se quedó en un piso en Madrid.
    She stayed at a flat in Madrid.

    --Estuvo allí por seis semanas.
    She was there for six weeks.

    --Conoció a mucha gente y e hizo muchos buenos amigos.
    She met a lot of people and she made many good friends.

    --Viajó a Barcelona dos veces y a Sevilla tres veces.
    She traveled to Barcelona two times and to Sevilla three times.

    --Estuvo contenta durante toda la estancia.
    She was happy during the whole stay.

    In all of these sentences the actions, events and states are viewed as being completed in the past and not in progress. Either a beginning or an end is being described. For example, in the following sentence Katie has begun to know many people (conoció) and has finished with making lots of friends (hizo).


    --Conoció a mucha gente y e hizo muchos buenos amigos.
    She met a lot of people and she made many good friends.

    It really doesn’t matter if what is being described is a beginning or an end in the past because both are expressed using the preterit in Spanish. What is important is that the action, event, or state (emotional or physical) is being described as complete.

    This page titled 9.1.7: G.2.2- The Preterite (el pretérito) is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by KU Open Language Resource Center via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.