The Preterite

In the last article, we learned that the imperfect is one of the two simple past tenses in Spanish and that it is used when talking about actions that happened in the past which do not have a defined ending, today we will discuss the other past tense called pretérito (preterite) which is used to refer to a single event that happened in the past at a specific point of time or had a specific duration.


  • To describe something that happened once.
    • Comió su desayuno. (He ate his breakfast.)
    • Escribí la carta. (I wrote the letter.)
    • Compramos una computadora. (We bought a computer.)
  • To describe something that happened more than once but with a specific end.
    • Vivimos allí por dos años.. (We lived there for two years.)
    • Leyó el libro diez veces. (He read the book ten times.)
    • Fui a cuatro tiendas la semana pasada. (I went to four stores last week.
  • Is used for actions that were part of a chain of events.
    • Ella se levantó, se bañó y se vistió. (She got up, took a shower, and dressed.)
  • The preterite can indicate the beginning or end of a process.
    • Empezó a nevar a las 7 de la mañana. (It began to snow at seven in the morning.)
    • El huracán se terminó a las seis. (The hurricane was finished at 6.)

We hope that these specific uses and examples helped you to clarify the differences between the two tenses. If you have any question feel free to write them in the comments.


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Lisa Ramirez Written by:

Graphic Designer, Blog editor, Spanish Teacher.

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