Preterite vs. Imperfect

Spanish has two past tenses.  I know that sounds weird…how can that be?  Well, I’ll tell you.  In Spanish, the Preterite tense is used when we have a completed action in the past, with a specific time frame.


Last night we ate spaghetti. (Last night is my time frame and we know it’s a completed action because I can’t ‘un-eat’ my spaghetti).


Anoche comimos los fideos (noodles).

The other past tense, the Imperfect is used for an ongoing action in the past, where there is no specific time frame.


We ate noodles every Friday last winter.

Here I know I’m using the Imperfect because this was an ongoing action in the past….every single Friday last winter.


Nosotros comíamos los fideos cada viernes el invierno pasado.

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