2El pretérito en términos generales “El pretérito” is used for actions in the past that are seen as completed.Juan habló por dos horas.Juan spoke for 2 hours.(action completed)Another way to look at it is that the preterite tells us specifically when an action took place.
3Cuando se usa el pretérito For actions that can be viewed as single events.Ella caminó por el parque. She walked through the park.It is often expressed by the “-ed” form in English but not always.Ayer mandé tres cartas. Yesterday I mailed three letters.
4Cuando se usa el pretérito parte 2… For actions that occurred during a specific period of timeVivimos allí por cuatro años.We lived there for four years.For actions that were part of a chain of eventsElla se levantó, se vistió, y salió de la casa. She got up, dressed, and left the house.To state the beginning or the end of an actionEmpezó a nevar a las ocho de la mañana. It began to snow at eight in the morning.
5El imperfecto en términos generales The imperfect tense is used for past actions that did not have a definite beginning or a definite end.Las chicas hablaban en inglés. The girls used to speak in English.(no definite beginning or end)Another way to look at it is that the imperfect tells us in general when an action took place.
6Cuando se usa el imperfecto The imperfect is used for actions that were repeated habitually.Almorzábamos juntos todos los días. We would lunch together every day.Las señoras siempre charlaban por las mañanas. The ladies would always chat in the mornings.The imperfect is used for actions that "set the stage" for another action.Yo leía cuando entró mi papá. I was reading when my papa entered.(note that "entered" is preterite)
7Cuando se usa el imperfecto parte 2… The imperfect is used for telling time and stating one's age.Eran las siete de la noche. It was seven o'clock at night.La niña tenía cinco años. The little girl was five years old.
8Cuando se usa el imperfecto parte 3… The imperfect is used to describe how things were or what things were like. Use the imperfect when describing the characteristics of people, things or conditions.Era un muchacho muy inteligente. He was a very intelligent boy.Era una señorita muy guapa. She was a beautiful young lady.Las ventanas estaban abiertas. The windows were open.La casa era blanca. The house was white
9Cuando se usa el imperfecto parte 4… Mental states or physical sensationsRamón tenía miedo de hablar en público. Ramón was afraid to speak in public.Yo creía que Juan podía hacerlo. I thought that Juan could do it.Me gustaba el coche. I liked the car. (The car was pleasing to me.)
10Cuando se usa el imperfecto parte 5… TiempoAnoche llovía mucho.It rained a lot yesterday.La semana pasada hacía mucho sol.There was a lot of sun last week.Ayer nevaba mucho.It snowed a lot yesterday.
11En resumen…The above examples all fall within our general rule for using the imperfect:The imperfect is used for past actions that are not seen as completed.