imperfecto del indicativo o pretérito del indicativo..

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Hege, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Hege Member

    Norway, Norwegian
    Hola a todos :)

    I am so confused about the conjugation of the verbs..:confused:
    I asked a question the other day about when to use the indicativo form, and when to use the subjuntivo form.. Unfortunately I didn`t get any wiser.. so if anyone can explain that to me I would be so grateful :)
    My question today is sort of the same thing, because apparently also here it is two different conjugations with the same meaning, as in imperfecto vs pretérito..

    So please anyone...
    When do I use the indicativo form vs the subjuntivo form?
    And when do I use the imperfecto del indicativo vs the pretérito del indicativo...

    I am so confused here... there are so many different forms, and many of them mean exactly the same thing :eek:

    Por favor.. Ayudarme :eek:

    Hege :)
  2. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Hi Hege,
    well, that´s really not an easy question that could be answered in a few sentences.
    Very generally, I would tell you that the indicativo is used to tell "facts", although there are a lot of phrasal verbs that require the subjuntivo all the same. The subjuntivo is normally used to express desire, wishes, doubts,.. and apart from that is used in other contexts as mentioned above.
    As to the pretérito, that would normally be the right choice to tell the facts of a story, whereas the imperfecto would be used to illustrate the situation, the caracter or appearance of somebody and so on. But often it actually depends on what you personally want to express and to stress.
    So, you see, it´s a long story, just stick your nose into a good grammar book now and then and above all: be patient, it does take a while to really get the hang of it, talk to as many native speakers as you can and read a lot in Spanish.

  3. Hege Member

    Norway, Norwegian
    Hola Sigianga :)

    Thank you so much for your answer.. It made me understand a little more :)
    Have a wonderful evening :)

    Hege :)
  4. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There have been many threads in the forums about the indicative and the subjunctive. Do a search for those words, and also for the Spanish terms, indicativo and subjuntivo. You should find plenty of different examples, explanations, situations...
  5. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    American English [AmE]
    Dear IMP-atient with this PRET-zel crud:

    I saw your post in the Spanish only forum. I am very happy to see that you are practing the language and want to say good for you. I took the cratchy title and the follow discussion from Brain Barabe. His explanation is great.

    Rule 1 Use the preterite to express -ed or one of the 200 irregulars (ran,swam, wrote, etc).

    Rule 2 Use the imperfect to express -ed or one of the 200 irregulars (ran,swam, wrote, etc).
    Rule 2b: Decide if "-ed or 200" also makes sense as "was ---ing" or "were ---ing". If so, stick with the imperfect.
    Rule 2c: Decide if "-ed or 200" also makes sense as "was --ing" or "were --ing". If so, stick with imperfect.

    Now here's Scott's explanation ;)

    I like to think of it as a line:


    Si continúa en el fondo (usa imperfecto) y algo ocure (usa pretérito)

    Dormía cuando mis padres regresaron a casa.

    Age, weather, and time takes imperfect. (Remember this is all "background" information).

    Eran las seis cuando me pensé que Luis iba a escribir el ensayo.

    (It was 6 when I thought (that) Luis was going to write the essay).

    Tenía 12 años. (I was 12 years old)
    Hacía buen tiempo (We had great weather. It was great weather)

    Once you have the above down:

    These past tense are very specific, for example one could say:

    Mi padre fue seminarista.

    O Mi padre era seminarista.....

    The first one means that he was a seminarian PERIOD. You are just stating a fact. While the other one means that you are going to tell a story about him. He was a seminarian yaddy yaddy yaddy...

    Pensé que Luis iba a escribir......
    Pensaba que Luis iba a escribir.....

    (First one--pensé---means that at that instant you thought, while pensaba means "I was thinking (I thought)" Normally we would say I thought in English, but in Spanish someone can distinguish if at one instant you though or you were thinking over a long period.)

    Then there are sentences like:

    Abrí la puerta mientras mis padres durmieron.

    (I opened the door while my parents slept.) In this example when I opened the door my parents woke up (they are no longer asleep).

    Abría la puerta mientras mis padres dormían
    (I was opening the door while my parents were sleeping.)
    Neither action is completed.

    Abrí la puerta mientras mis padres dormían.
    (I opened the door while my parents were sleeping)
    I opened the door, completed, my parents are still sleeping.

    Abría la puerta mientras mis padres durmieron.
    (I was opening the door while my parents slept.)
    The opening the door is not completed, but while I was opening it, my parents woke up (dumieron).

    You can do the above situation for nearly all verbs in Spanish, and lots of Spanish speakers understand those concepts. The only thing in my 6 years of learnings Spanish I have never seen age, time, or weather expressed in perterite because as I said earlier those are background events and biologically since we cannot change them, they should be expressed in imperfect.

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