Estuve/estaba trabajando

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by EllieBee, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. EllieBee New Member

    Scotland, UK
    Britain; English
    Hola a todos,

    I hope you can help me! I am writing about working as a volunteer for a month, but I'm stuck on tenses (again!). It is part of an informal letter to a friend.

    In English, I am trying to say:

    "As you know, I spent a month in Mexico and I have just got back. I was working as a volunteer..."

    In Spanish, this is what I have come up with so far:

    "Como lo sabes, pasé un mes en México, y acabo de regresar a casa. Estuve trabajando como voluntaria..."

    I'm not sure which past tense to use for that last sentence. I decided to go for pretérito as the time frame had been defined in the previous sentence. But perhaps it should be estaba trabajando because I haven't been specific about dates etc.? Or indeed, maybe it should simply be trabajé?

    I am lost. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    Don't despair:). You can use both. If you say "estuve trabajando" it implies that you don't work there anymore. If you use "estaba trabajando" you leave this open (you may still be, or then again, you may not), and it's up to you whether you want to express this or not.
  3. caniho Senior Member

    Andalusian Spanish
    In the most common Spanish from Spain: "Como lo sabes, he pasado un mes en México, y acabo de regresar a casa. He estado trabajando como voluntaria..." You may also want to say 'estaba trabajando', as Peter said. On the other hand, if you use the preterite, then it doesn't sound like something you have just done or been doing, but rather like something you did some time ago, for example last year.
  4. yoliyoli Senior Member

    Spain and spanish
    Hello Ellie Bee:
    you have chosen the right option for your sentence: estuve trabajando como voluntaria. But it sounds like something you did a while ago.

    It would be better: He pasado un mes en México. He estado trabajando como voluntaria.

    As you know - como (ya) sabes, without the "lo"

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