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Two Verb Imperfect — Spanish Verb Conjugation

Hola. Just like you previously learned, whenever there are two verbs in a row, the first one is conjugated and the second one is left in its infinitive form. In other words, the second verb is not conjugated.

I was going to go

Iba a ir

She was hoping to study tonight

Esperaba estudiar esta noche

She wanted to eat it.

Quería comerlo

Juan didn’t know how to swim.

Juan no sabía nadar

We didn’t need to do it.

No necesitábamos hacerlo

They had to eat it.

Tenían que comerlo.

I wasn’t able to finish it.

No podía terminarlo.

He used to prefer to go alone.

Prefería ir solo.

Now let's practice with the Spanish verb "gustar".  Remember, gustar changes from "gusta" (if the item that follows or “what you like” is singular) to "gustan" (if the item following or “what you like” is plural).  This concept is the same in the "Back" tense where gustar changes from "gustaba" (singular) to "gustaban" (plural).  Just like the other tenses, if you use two verbs in a row, you don't have to conjugate the second verb.  And since the second verb is considered “one item” or “one thing” we use the singular "gustaba" instead of “gustaban”.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Singular or Verb After



I used to like to read (reading)

Me gustaba leer


I used to like tacos

Me gustaban los tacos

María used to like to swim (swimming)

María le gustaba nadar


María used to like cookies

A María le gustaban las galletas

We used to like the car

Nos gustaba el carro


We used to like those cars

Nos gustaban esos carros

They used to like to run (running)

Les gustaba corer


They used to like French fries

Les gustaban las papas fritas


I was preparing to answer

preparaba contester

(Marta) You used to want to dance

querías bailar

He desired to know

deseaba saber

She was hoping to buy

esperaba comprar

(Sra. Benites) You used to invite me to eat dinner

me invitaba a comer

We needed to arrive

necesitabamos llegar

They were planning to change

planeaban cambiar

All of you used to teach them to swim

les enseñaban a nadar

I allowed them to enter

les permetía entrar

(Martín) You were learning to sing

aprendías a cantar

He used to like to cook

le gustaba cocinar

She was finishing to paint

terminaba de pintar

(Sr. Mendes) You were trying to sell

trataba de vender

We used to want to clean

queríamos limpiar

They prepared to deliver

preparaban entregar

All of you were hoping to surprise

esperaban sorprender

I used to desire to return

deseaba regresar

(Juana) You hoped to eat breakfast

esperabas desayunar

He was preparing to play (instrument)

preparaba tocar

She used to invite us to visit

nos invitaba a visitor

(Sra. Benites) You were planning to draw

planeaba dibujar

We used to need to study

necesitabamos estudiar

They allowed you to work

te permitían trabajar

All of you were learning to use

aprendían usar

I was teaching him to drive

le enseñaba a manejar

We used to like to help

nos gustaba ayudar

We hoped to travel

esperabamos viajar

(Rosa) You were trying to decide

tratabas de decidir

(Raúl) You used to want to play

Querías jugar

We liked to drink

nos gustaba beber

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