Spanish Imprefect Irregular Verbs Spanish Verb Conjugation

Bienvenidos. Like every other tense in Spanish, The imperfecto or “Back Verb” tense also has irregulars. The great thing is that there are only 3 irregulars making it the easiest to learn of any verb tense.

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Are you ready to see what they are? Here you go: they are “ir”, “ser”, and “ver”. Let’s take a look at see how each one is conjugated:

First is “ir” or “to go”.

I was going (Remember, this also means “I used to go” or “I went sometimes” or using another indefinite period of time. (Yo) iba We were going (Nosotros) íbamos Notice the accent over the “í".
Juan or María, You were going (Tú) ibas Now the Vosotros form which is
(tú plural – used only in Spain)
(Vosotros) ibais
He was going
She was going
Mrs. Mendoza, you were going  
(Él) iba
(Ella) iba (Ud.) iba
They were going
They (feminine) were going
All of were going
(Ellos) iban
(Ellas) iban (Uds.) iban

Remember, this means “I was going”, “I used to go” or “I went sometimes” or “on Saturdays” and so forth. With all of these, there is not definite starting or ending point and they don’t last a specific period of time. Remember, verbs that would use a specific period of time like “yesterday” or “for 3 weeks” or “for 10 minutes” would be conjugated in the Spine or Preterite tense in Spanish.

Now, let’s look at the next irregular Back verb: It is “ser”. Remember, “ser” means “to be”. Remember, from Level I, with “ser” we describe permanent characteristics like “tall”, “smart” or “nice”. Remember also that when we use the “Back” verb or “imperfect” tense, that it is for an indefinite period of time. So, it works perfectly for phrases like, “She was nice”, “He was smart” and so forth – because they probably haven’t stopped being “nice” or “smart”, they still could be nice or smart. Let’s see how to conjugate “ser”. The conjugation doesn’t look like the verb “ser” at all.

Are you ready?

I was poor (Yo) era pobre We were tall (Nosotros) éramos altos Notice the accent over the “e".
María, you were rich (Tú) eras rica Now the Vosotros form used in Spain
“All of you (informal) were friendly
(Vosotros) erais amables)
He was funny
She was short
Dr. Jones, you were interesting
(Él) era chistoso
(Ella) era bajita (Ud.) era interesante
They were strong
They (feminine) were good looking
All of you were short
(Ellos) eran fuertes
(Ellas) eran guapas (Uds.) eran bajitos

Remember, “era” means “I was” for a non-specific period of time or “I used to be”.

Now let’s take a look at the last irregular back verb. “ver”. This is only slightly irregular. Normally, we would chop the “er” ending and add the new ending. However, with “ver” we only chop the “r” and add the ending. In other words, the only reason this verb is considered irregular, is because we leave the “e” instead of taking it off like we normally would.

Let’s take a look:

I was seeing (Yo) veía We were seeing (Nosotros) veíamos
Juan or María, You were seeing (Tú) veías Now the Vosotros form which is
(tú plural – used only in Spain)
(Vosotros) veíais
He was seeing
She was seeing
You were seeing
(Él) veía
(Ella) veía (Ud.) veía
They were seeing
They (feminine) were seeing
All of were seeing
(Ellos) veían
(Ellas) veían (Uds.) veían

Remember, “veías” means “You were seeing”, “You used to see” or “You saw on Tuesdays” or “many times” or “often” or some other indefinite period of time.

Now let’s take a look at some important Usage Situations for “Back Verb” or (the imperfect tense). Even though it seems like you should use the “Spine” or “Preterite” tense for the following two situations, they are exceptions and you should use the “Back” or “Imperfect” tense.

First, when talking about age in the past, you always use the “back” or “imperfect” tense.

For example, the phrase, “When I was 12 years old” would be “Cuando tenía doce años”. “When they were 3 years old” would be “Cuando tenían tres años”.

Remember, with age, you always use “tener”. For example, “She is 16 years old” would be “Ella tiene dieciséis años”. …And “She was 16 years old” would be “Ella tenía dieciséis años”. It doesn’t really make sense in English to say “She has 16 years”, but that’s how they do it in Spanish.

Next, when telling time in the past, the “Back” or “Imperfect” tense should also be used, even though this doesn’t seem to follow the rules – since it is a specific period of time – it’s another exception.

For example, the phrase, “It was at one o’clock” would be, “Era a la una”. Remember, if we say any time besides one o’clock”, we have to make it plural with an “n”. For example, “It was at four o’clock” would be, “Eran a las cuatro”

Our final Usage Situation with Back verbs happens when talking about what life was like in the past. For example “When I was young…” which would be “Cuando era joven…” Or “When we were children, we used to read a lot” which would be “Cuando éramos niños, leíamos mucho.” Another example of this exceptions would be, “when I was 5 years old”, even though it seems to be for a specific period of time, it does set the background and has to be conjugated in the “Back” tense. To become really familiar with these irregulars and exceptions, I recommend going through this section more than once until they really start to sink in.


I was going iba
(Marta) You used to go ibas
He went (sometimes) iba
She was going iba
(Sra. Benites) You used go iba
We went (every week) ibamos
They were going iban
All of you used to go iban
I was (young) era
(Martín) You were eras
He used to be era
She was (happy) era
(Sr. Mendes) You were era
We used to be eran
They were eran
All of you were era
I used to see veía
(Juana) You saw veías
He was seeing veía
She used to see veía
(Sra. Benites) You were seeing veía
We used to see veíamos
They saw veían
All of you were seeing veían
I was going iba
We used to be eramos
We saw veíamos
(Rosa) You were going ibas
(Raúl) You used to be eras