The Long and Winding Road : Spanish Imperfect Tense

We started our adventure with the imperfect indicative tense this week in class. When our instructor announced that there are two simple past tenses in Spanish, an audible groan emanated from the back of the room and one grumpy soul offered up this gem of a question: “Why would they do that?” With a wink and a grin, our Colombian professor replied, “Because we like it.” I love this guy!

What I don’t love are all the junky explanations on the net for when you use the preterite tense and when you use the imperfect. Particularly bad are many of the videos from YouTube. I suffered through one seven-minute video that suggested that the imperfect only means “used to.” Really? That’s the only way it’s used? I did find this video from Professor Jason helpful though.

*Gerald Erichsen offers up a short but helpful description of the two tenses here. You can follow that up with a practice quiz on his site.

*Choose the length of an imperfect quiz on 10, 15, 25 questions?

*Here’s a Jeopardy-style activity on the imperfect you can play with a friend.

*A traditional fill-in-the-blank test can be found at Learn Spanish, Feel Good.

*Phil Endecott has a verb exercise that you can personalize to your heart’s content here. Mix any and all tenses in any and all persons with whatever frequency you want, and in whatever length you want. It has a couple of kinks in it, but generally it’s a good database.


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