Imperfect vs Preterite when talking about a film

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by john_bishop1, May 5, 2012.

  1. john_bishop1 New Member

    english
    For my A Level speaking, I am talking about a film and am discussing the historical context but am confused about whether I use preterite or imperfect.
    For example, I am saying how president Allende in Chile froze prices and shared land between the rich and the poor, but then the dictator Pinochet help a military coup and took over power.
    Would this be right?
    Allende era el presidente de Chile y congelaba los precios, compartía la tierra entre los ricos y los pobres, pero el dictador Pinoche organizaba un coup militario y tomaba todo el poder.
     
  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    No, I'm afraid most of those verbs should be in the preterite. They are concrete, pointlike actions over and done with in the past. The imperfect is for setting, context, habits, and so on. It may help to recall that sequences of events are usually reported with the preterite.

    With a few of the verbs it's arguable: "Allende was president" could be imperfect or preterite; "froze prices" is preterite, but you could also say "had frozen prices", which is pluperfect.
     
  3. flljob

    flljob Senior Member

    México
    México español
    Allende era el presidente de Chile, congeló los precios y repartió la tierra (tal vez no entre ricos y pobres, sino que expropió la tierra a los ricos para dársela a los pobres), pero el dictador Pinochet organizó on golple militar y tomó el poder.
    También: En 1973, el presidente de Chile congelaba los precios y repartía la tierra. Pinochet organizó un golpe militar y tomó el poder.
     
  4. john_bishop1 New Member

    english
    Thanks for the reply. So if I was to say - the context of the film is the 1970s in Chile, when Allende was the president and he changed a lot - freezing prices of food and sharing land between the rich and the poor. However, after, Pinochet help a military coup and took over power.
    Would it be imperfect until the Pinochet part?
     
  5. flljob

    flljob Senior Member

    México
    México español
    En 1973, Allende era (imperfecto) presidente de Chile; congeló (pretérito simple) los precios y repartió la tierra. Sin embargo, Pinochet organizó un golpe de estado y tomó el poder.

    It's difficult to explain in English.
     
  6. Fmorondo Senior Member

    Pamplona, Spain
    Español-España
    Es correcto poner los verbos de Allende en perfecto, pero también funciona dejarlos en imperfecto, para sugerir que hubiera seguido haciéndolo si no se hubiera producido el golpe (probablemente necesita terminar la cláusula con puntos suspensivos).

    Allende era el presidente de Chile y congelaba los precios, repartía a los pobres la tierra de los ricos... pero el dictador Pinochet organizó un golpe militar y tomó el poder.
     
  7. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Curiosidad:
    Pinochet help a military coup and took over power.
    ¿Seguro que querés decir 'help'?
     
  8. St. Nick Senior Member

    English
    When discussing art, I'd use the present tense.
     
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Debría ser "held", claro. :)

    Otras posibilidades:

    En los años 70, Allende fue presidente de Chile, congeló los precios y repartió a los pobres la tierra de los ricos, pero el dictador Pinochet organizó un golpe militar y tomó el poder.
    En 1973, Allende era presidente de Chile, y había congelado los precios y repartido a los pobres la tierra de los ricos, pero el dictador Pinochet organizó un golpe militar y tomó el poder.
     
  10. alanla

    alanla Senior Member

    Is see it like Flljob does: And it is difficult to explain in English, too:

    En 1973, Allendeera (imperfecto) presidente de Chile; congeló (pretérito simple) los precios y repartió la tierra. Sin embargo, Pinochet organizó un golpe de estado y tomó el poder.

    You no doubt know your Spanish. But it seems that something Iread before makes the difference between the Preterite and Imperfect all come together for me. *[What complicates things in general is that there are some cases where either of the 2 could be appropriate, no matter how you approach it, as other natives have said.]

    Try this:
    If you imagine a picture [Goldilocks], or a frame in a movie and think of the Imperfect as the staging and the Preterite as the action in the picture, it makes it clear.

    Setting: was President, description, color, time, etc.
    Action: [all those quite obvious ones…froze prices, shared the land, organized a coup, took power, etc.—those actions and similar actions going on in the picture--the abrupt action vs descriptive action, like was talking (hablaba)[habló vs. hablaba]

    Then I think it is easier to think quickly about what we know and have been taught in minute detail. The long complicated intricacies about the 2 past tenses seem to be easier to understand. And the real nuances are kept at a minimum. Even the complexities of both are easier to place in the framework after using the model a few times. There is a reference to Goldilocks and one to a YouTube video that might help to get the idea of action and background and the idea of a picture/frame. [See other links also.]
    This is hard to explain briefly. I hope you get the concept I was trying to get across here.
    Any help to you??
    http://www.colby.edu/~bknelson/SLC/ricitos1.php Goldilocks [concept and quick test]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVeX5Eh6DnQ preterite vs. imperfect.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012

Share This Page