Spanish Imperfect Tense – Conjugation

The Spanish Imperfect Tense (“Pretérito Imperfecto”) is one of the several tenses used in Spanish to talk about the past.

Its conjugation is very easy, actually the easiest of all tenses. The reason is, there are only three irregular verbs! That is so rare in Spanish, it deserves a celebration 🙂

 

Regular Verbs

For the regular verbs, we divide them in two groups: the verbs with infinitive ending in “-ar”, and the rest (ending in “-er”, “-ir”).

  • For the verbs ending in “-ar”, you have to think “-aba”, because all persons contain that in their conjugation.
  • For the the verbs in “-er”, “-ir”, you have to think “-ía”, because again, all persons contain it. 

 

As examples of Regular Verbs, let’s conjugate the verbs “jugar”, “comer” and “vivir”.

 JugarComerVivir
yojugabacomíavivía
jugabascomíasvivías
éljugabacomíavivía
nosotrosjugábamoscomíamosvivíamos
vosotrosjugabaiscomíaisvivíais
ellosjugabancomíanvivían

Pretty easy.

Have you notice that the conjugation for the first person singular and the third person singular is exactly the same? That happens for all verbs in Imperfect, also for the 3 irregulars which we will see now.




Irregular verbs

The only three irregular verbs are “ser”, “ir”, and “ver”:

 SerIrVer
yoeraibaveía
erasibasveías
éleraibaveía
nosotroséramosíbamosveíamos
vosotroseraisibaisveíais
elloseranibanveían

 

** Imperfect of “hay” = “había”

One last thing: The Imperfect conjugation for “hay” (“there is, there are”) is “había” (“there was, there were”)

Yes: Both “there was” and “there were” translate to Spanish as  “había”,  never as  “habían”.

Examples:

Ayer había un hombre muy raro en la fiesta = Yesterday there was a ver strange guy at the party.

Había muchas plantas en mi casa = There were a lot of plants in my house.

I understood the conjugation. But WHEN should I use the Imperfect Tense?

To learn when to use it, click here!

Or Click here to see all our Grammar Lessons.