In Spanish, the Imperfect is used in 5 main instances:
1.To express habitual and repeated actions in the past:
For example: “cuando tenía diez años, nadaba mucho.”
2. To describe nouns in the past:
For example: “el coche era azul.”
3.To express an action in the past that has no specific time reference:
For example: “Ana comía mucho.”
4.To express an opinion or feeling in the past:
For example: “ella estaba contenta.”
5. To describe an action that was interrupted*:
For example: “comía mi desayuno cuando llegaste.”
*Notebook: The interrupting action is typically in the Preterite.
Formation: Regular verbs
The formation of regular verbs in Spanish is fairly simple. In their infinitive form, verbs end in either: -ar, -er or –ir.
To form the Imperfect Tense for regular verbs in Spanish, we remove the -ar, -er or –ir ending of the verb to obtain the stem.
For example: hablar - ar = habl
Then the correct Imperfect Tense ending must be added to the stem in order to indicate who/what is doing/does the action.
For example: the stem of hablar = habl, the ending for I for -ar verbs is "aba", the conjugated verb becomes "hablaba" (I used to speak/I was speaking).
The endings for each person are as follows:
Therefore to conjugate the hablar, comer and vivir we follow these steps:
1. We remove the infinitive ending to obtain the stem
hablar - ar = habl
comer - er = com
vivir - ir = viv
2. We add the correct ending to the stem:
Formation: Irregular verbs
There are only 3 common irregular verbs in the Imperfect in Spanish:
Click here to continue to exercises on the Imperfect Tense