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Preterite AR Verbs — Spanish Verb Conjugation

Hola, and welcome to the Spanish “spine verb” section. The correct grammatical name for this verb tense is the “preterite” tense. If you are taking Spanish in school or with a tutor or teacher, they will usually call it the “preterite” tense. Because the word “preterite” is hard to relate to anything we have nicknamed this tense the “spine” tense after the spine in your back. First of all, your spine is in back of you, representing the past 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.

Spanish Mini Course - Preterite Ar Verbs



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Here are a few examples of spine verbs.

I ate
She sat
They traveled
We walked

Just like with our comparison with the spine, with each of these verbs, the situation started, had a definite ending, and happened in the past. The next lesson will teach you to conjugate using the “spine” or “preterite” tense.

Ar Spine Spanish Verbs Explanation

Let’s learn how to conjugate “ar” spine verbs or otherwise called the “preterite” tense. We’ll use the verb “hablar” which means “to talk or speak”.

If I want to say I spoke, I would say

(Yo) hablé

We spoke would be

(Nosotros) hablamos
Notice that this conjugation is the same as the present tense. This is correct and the only way to tell the difference between present and the past spine tense is by the context. For example, “hablamos ayer” would be “we spoke yesterday”. And, “hablamos hoy” would be “We speak today”.

To say Juan or María, You spoke I would say

(Tú) hablaste

(tú plural – used only in Spain) would be

(Vosotros) hablasteis

He spoke would be
She spoke would be
You spoke would be

(El) habló
(Ella) habló
(Ud.) habló

They spoke would be
They (women) spoke would be
All of you spoke would be

(Ellos) hablaron
(Ellas) hablaron
(Uds.) hablaron

Now take a look at the Spine AR endings one more time and repeat them.







Now let’s try a few of these:

I spoke


You spoke


He spoke


She spoke


You spoke


We spoke


They spoke


They spoke


All of you spoke


Let’s take one more look at the “ar” spine verb endings:







Now we’ll practice with a few different verbs. Are you ready?

I danced

(Yo) bailé

You rested – using “tú”

(Tú) descansaste

He studied

(Él) estudió

She visited

(Ella) visitó

You traveled – using “usted”

(Ud.) viajó

We called

(Nosotros) llamamos

They drove

(Ellos) manejaron

All of you practiced

(Uds.) practicaron

How did you do? Before going on to the practice session, we need to learn a few new words and take a look at some usage situations.

First our new Vocabulary
the milk           la leche
all night           toda la noche
this morning    esta mañana
yesterday         ayer
the window     la ventana
the beans         los frijoles
last night         anoche
the party          la fiesta
never               nunca
a lot                 mucho
last month       el mes pasado

Now we’ll take a brief look at a couple of usage situations. The verb “to enter” in Spanish is “entrar”. If you add a location after the word “entrar”, you need to put the word “en” afterwards. – For example, if you say I enter the house, in Spanish you would say “Entro en la casa” and if you say “I enter the car” you would say “Entro en el carro”.

Now, our final usage example: When you say “to try”, then add another verb, you have to add the word “de” between them. For example: “I tried to eat” – in past tense - would be “traté de comer”, the phrase “He tried to run would be “trató de correr”, and the phrase “We tried to speak” would be “tratamos de hablar” Remember, the AR verb “nosotros” form is the same in the present tense as well as the past tense. In the following Practice Session, you’ll have the chance to conjugate many ar spine verbs.

Spanish Practice Session – Spine Practice

Now, we’ll go ahead and begin our “ar” spine verb practice. As usual, you’ll read a phrase in English and you try to conjugate it into Spanish.

I answered

Yo contesté

(Marta) You bought it (la leche)

La compraste

He called her yesterday.

La llamó ayer

She changed it.

Lo cambió

(Sra. Benites) You didn’t clean it (la ventana)

No la limpió

We cooked them (los frijoles) yesterday

Los cocinamos ayer

They danced last night.

Bailaron anoche

All of you drew one.

Dibujaron uno

I drove to the store.

Manejé a la tienda

(Martín) You ate dinner last night.

Cenaste anoche

He explained it well.

Lo explicó bien

She fixed it yesterday

Lo arregló ayer

(Sr. Mendes) You helped me this morning

Me ayudó esta mañana

We invited them (ellos) last week

Los invitamos la semana pasada

They kept the money.

Guardaron el dinero

All of you listened well.

Escucharon bien

I watched TV last week.

Miré la televisión la semana pasada

(Juana) You painted it (la casa) last week

La pintó la semana pasada

He planned the party

Planeó la fiesta

She rested a lot this morning

Descansó mucho esta mañana

(Sra. Olivares) You never returned.

Nunca regresó

We sent it (la carta) yesterday

La mandamos ayer

They never sang it (la canción)

Nunca la cantaron

All of you studied a lot.

Estudiaron mucho

I swam last month

Nadé el mes pasado

I entered the store

Entré en la tienda

(Martín) You never took it

Nunca lo tomaste

He traveled last month

Viajó el mes pasado

She used it (la computadora) a lot

La usó mucho

(Sr. Mendoza) You visited them (ellos)

Los visitó

We waited for her all night

La esperamos toda la noche

She tried to eat

Trató de comer

They walked to the park last month

Caminaron al parque el mes pasado

All of you worked a lot last month

Trabajaron mucho el mes pasado.

Repeat this lesson if you’re not comfortable with it yet. Otherwise go ahead and move on.

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