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Imperfect Tense Introduction — Spanish Verb Conjugation

Hola, are you about ready to jump in and start learning a new verb tense? If you haven’t reviewed the Spanish verbs using the previous lessons, I highly recommend you do so before continuing. Now let’s jump in with a quick review of the last verb tense you learned in Level II. It’s the preterite tense. Remember that we nicknamed it the “Spine” tense. If you run your hand left to right across your back, you will feel that there is a definite starting point and ending point to your spine. Like your spine, the spine tense represents a singular event in time that has a definite starting and ending point. Remember that to help you learn Spanish conjugation.

Some examples of Spine verbs would be:

I ate
She sat
They traveled
We walked

Now we’re going to learn about the Imperfect tense in Spanish and how it works. We’ve nicknamed it the “Back” tense. Unlike the spine that has a definite beginning and ending point, the “Back” covers a larger more indefinite period of them. There’s no specific beginning or ending to your back.

Some examples of back verbs would be:
When I was young…
or
I used to eat

Unlike spine verbs that were completed actions like “Juan ate it”, Back verbs describe actions that happened on more than one specific occasion. In fact, the action still could be happening; like your “back”, there is no specific beginning or ending point. For example “Juan always ate tacos on Thursdays.” Well, Juan still could still be eating tacos every Thursday; we don’t know if he has stopped or not.

The other thing that back verbs do is to set the background. For example, you could say:

While I was eating…
Or
When she was working there…
Or
As he was walking home…

These phrases set the background. Let’s look at a direct comparison of how Spine and Back verbs translate to English.

Spine would be:

Spine would be:

I walked

I did it, and it’s completed.

The Back tense would be:

I was walking.
I used to walk.
or
I walked every Thursday.

This last one uses the Back tense because there’s no specific beginning or ending point, it still could be happening, and it isn’t necessarily completed.



After you learn to conjugate Spansih “Back” verbs, the final lesson in this section will teach you how to combine “Spine” and “Back” verbs in the same sentence. Remember, the names “Spine” and “Back” are just their nicknames. The verb tenses are really called the “preterite” tense and the “imperfect” tense. Terminamos con esta lección. Gracias por estar conmigo. Hasta la próxima.

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