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THE IMPERFECT TENSE

 

The imperfect is a past tense in Spanish. Its uses are different from those of the preterite. They are used in different contexts and emphasize the continuation of an action in the past. To form the imperfect tense, remove the infinitive endings (-ar, -er, and -ir) and add the following conjugated endings:

 

Pronoun

Comprar/ to buy

Vender/ to sell

Recibir/ to receive

yo/ I

compraba

vendía

recibía

/ you

comprabas

vendías

recibías

él, ella, Ud./ he, she, you

compraba

vendía

recibía

nosotros/ we

comprábamos

vendíamos

recibíamos

vosotros/ you

comprabais

vendíais

recibíais

ellos/ they

compraban

vendían

recibían

 

 

USES OF THE IMPERFECT TENSE

1.    The Spanish imperfect tense has several meanings in English; the Spanish imperfect is used to describe actions that occurred repeatedly or habitually in the past. To communicate the same idea in English, the phrases used to or would, past continuous, or simple past are used.

 

2.    The imperfect tense is used to describe physical conditions or characteristics of people and things in the past.

 

3.    It is also used to express ongoing emotional or mental states, desires and opinions in the past.

 

4.    The imperfect is used to express time or age in the past.

 

5.    The imperfect is used with the conjunction mientras/ while to express 2 or more ongoing and simultaneous actions.

 

6.    It is also used to describe a scene in the past.

 

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