Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

10.6: Gramática. Pretérito e imperfecto III

  • Page ID
    • Erica Brown, Alejandra Escudero, María Cristina Montoya, & Elizabeth Small
    • SUNY Oneonta via OER SUNY

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)


    • Distinguish the use of the imperfect for describing ongoing conditions and the preterit for the onset of conditions.

    In the beginning of this unit you learned that the imperfect is used for past actions in progress and the preterit is used for past completed actions. The same distinction can be applied to emotions, mental states and similar conditions:

    1. Verbs that describe a mental or physical state are called non-action verbs. These change meaning when you use them in the preterit or imperfect. For example, the verb Play Audioestar in the preterit means “became” or “got”, whereas in the imperfect it means “was”.
      • Play AudioMamá estuvo enojada cuando le dimos una fiesta sorpresa. (Mom got angry when we gave her a surprise party.)
      • Play AudioRealmente estaba contenta con una tarde tranquila en casa por sus cumpleaños. (Really she was happy with a quiet afternoon at home for her birthday.)
    2. The stem-changing verb sentirse means “to feel”, and you can use the imperfect to describe an ongoing feeling, or the preterit to describe the onset or a completed feeling.
      • Play AudioEl abuelo se sintió mareado en su fiesta de 90 años y lo llevamos al doctor. (Grandfather felt / got dizzy in his 90th birthday party, and we took him to the doctor.)
      • Play AudioÉl se sintió bien mientras duraba la medicina, pero sus síntomas volvieron después. (He felt fine while the medicine lasted, but his symptoms came back after.)
      • Play AudioLa chica se sentía cohibida en las fiestas y nunca quiso bailar. (The girl felt shy at parties and never wanted to dance.)
    3. Reflexive verbs that portray emotions similarly use the imperfect and the preterit to distinguish between *being* in a condition in the past and *becoming* in a condition in the past. Here are a few of the ones you learned in the chapter on reflexive verbs: Play Audioaburrirse (to become bored); Play Audioalegrarse (to become happy); Play Audioenojarse (to become angry); Play Audiofrustrarse (to become frustrated); Play Audiosorprenderse (to be surprised)
      • Play AudioÉl no se aburrió en la fiesta de cóctel cuando conoció a su esposa, lo cual era raro porque siempre se aburría en fiestas sin música y baile. (He didn’t get bored at the cocktail party when he first met his wife, which was strange because he was always bored at parties without music and dancing.)
    4. Another irregular verb that expresses a change of emotion in the preterit is Play Audioponerse (to become); in the imperfect it expresses a continuous or habitual emotional state.
      • Play AudioElla se puso nerviosa antes de invitar al chico guapo a la fiesta. (She got nervous before inviting the handsome young man to the party.)
      • Play AudioEl cocinero se ponía nervioso para cada fiesta de Año Nuevo, por la posibilidad de no tener suficientes uvas. (The cook would get nervous for every New Year’s party, about the possibility of not having enough grapes.)
    5. Also, as you learned in Spanish 1, don’t forget the expressions with “tener” that show physical states and emotions: Play Audiotener hambre (to be hungry), Play Audiotener sed (to be thirsty), Play Audiotener frío (to be cold), Play Audiotener calor (to be hot), Play Audiotener suerte (to be lucky).
      • Play AudioCuando entramos al comedor y vimos la cena de Navidad, de pronto todos tuvimos mucha hambre. (When we walked into the dining room and saw the Christmas dinner, suddenly we were all hungry.)
      • Play AudioEran las Navidades, pero teníamos calor porque vivíamos en Centroamérica. (It was Christmastime, but we were hot because we were living in Central America.)


    This page titled 10.6: Gramática. Pretérito e imperfecto III is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Erica Brown, Alejandra Escudero, María Cristina Montoya, & Elizabeth Small (OER SUNY) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.