Spanish Imperfect Tense – How to conjugate it

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

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 whose infinitive ends in “-ar”, and the rest (“-er”, “-ir”).

The trick is, for the verbs in “-ar”, you have to think “-aba”, because all persons contain that group of letters.

And for the rest of the verbs, 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 first person and the third are 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, it doesn’t matter, both for singular and plural you will say “había”,  NOT “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.