The Imperfect Tense - Explanation

# F. J. Villatoro #

The Imperfect Tense - Explanation

The imperfect is a past tense in Spanish. Its uses are different from those of the preterite.

They are used in different contexts and emphasize the continuation of an action in the past.

To form the imperfect tense, remove the infinitive endings (-ar, -er, and -ir) and add the following conjugated endings:

Here is a list of some in the Yo form and underneath examples of other parts of the verbs:


Pronoun Comprar( to buy) Vender (to sell) Recibir (to receive)
yo (I) compraba vendía recibías
tú (you) comprabas vendías recibías
él, ella, Ud. (he, she, you) compraba vendía recibía
nosotros (we) comprábamos vendíamos recibíamos
vosotros (you) comprabais vendíais recibíais
ellos (they) compraban vendían recibían

Uses of the Imperfect tense

  1. The Spanish imperfect tense has several meanings in English; the Spanish imperfect is used to describe actions that occurred repeatedly or habitually in the past. To communicate the same idea in English, the phrases 'used to' or 'would', past continuous, or simple past are used.
  2. The imperfect tense is used to describe physical conditions or characteristics of people and things in the past.
  3. It is also used to express ongoing emotional or mental states, desires and opinions in the past.
  4. The imperfect is used to express time or age in the past.
  5. The imperfect is used with the conjunction mientras/ while to express 2 or more ongoing and simultaneous actions.
  6. It is also used to describe a scene in the past.