Tag Archives: preterite


It’s been a full couple of weeks in the life of this Spanish language dilettante. Our teacher has used them to pour as much grammar as possible into our little brains. A typical day has gone something like this: 90 minutes covering/practicing the pluperfect indicative tense, followed by a break, 90 minutes on the pluperfect subjunctive, another break, an hour of computer work, and then for homework…maybe ten workbook activities, an essay, and an oral recording submitted over email. Yikes! But because of that pace, we’ve finished all the major grammar points of the Spanish language as of today. Next week is just review and a series of short readings. Oh, and then we have a little old final exam to finish things off. Bring it on, profesor!

One of the sources I’ve been using to try to digest all the various verb forms that we’ve been going over in class the last six weeks is the website Conjuguemos. While it is not fancy and is by no means comprehensive, the site allows you to take timed (or untimed if you want) quizzes that are all about conjugating verb forms correctly and nothing else. You can choose to work in any tense in any of the four moods, or you can use the “comprehensive conjugator” to work in all the forms of the subjunctive and indicative moods simultaneously. You can also select to work specifically on one pronoun, or add/eliminate vosotros from the quizzes.

The site also has quiz work for vocabulary and other parts of grammar, in addition to verbs, but I’ve mostly stuck to the conjugation tests so far. Taking a five-minute quiz just before doing homework or heading off to class has been a good warm-up for me and can help anyone get into that Spanish frame of mind.

Stories from Mexico/Historias de México : Genevieve Barlow and William N. Stivers

McGraw-Hill’s three collections of Spanish-language folk readings for beginning and intermediate learners have been around for a while: Stories from Mexico, Stories from Latin America, and Stories from Spain. I’ve had my eye on all of them for a couple of months now, but I didn’t actually sit down with any of them until this week…because I received the collection of Mexican tales as a present! I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for short, interesting writings that entertain while boosting your vocabulary.

The collection has sixteen Mexican legends that span almost 1,500 years of that country’s history. Included are stories from the pre-Columbian era through Spanish colonialism and beyond. Most are written using the present, preterite, and imperfect tenses, though an occasional subjunctive mood or complex tense sneaks in here and there. But I don’t think any of them are too difficult or will trip up a beginning reader that much. And like many of this type of book, the English translation is given on the facing page.

There are two things that I particularly like about the collection, which has me excited to read the other two volumes in the series. First off, more difficult or unusual vocabulary is generally mixed in with a load of common words. So instead of reaching for the dictionary every other sentence, I’ve found that I only need to look up about four per page. That leads to a much smoother reading experience, and it helps one more easily piece together meanings from context. The other thing I like is that the stories are all short; they usually run only about two or three pages. So I’ve been able to read a piece a night in bed just before going to sleep. It’s really nice to begin and end a story in one sitting. It makes me more willing to go back and reread again and again later. And the stories are certainly interesting and fun. The first selection, for instance, is about how the moon came to acquire its pockmark-like crater formations…they’re actually rabbit tracks!

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 StudySpanish.com: 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.

¡Arriba! 6 + 7 : Irregular Spanish Preterite Verbs, Part III

Part I, Part II

Here comes the rest of the preterite stem-changing gang. I also found this nice song on Señor Jordan‘s website about the most common irregular preterite verbs. Enjoy!

haber (to have (aux.), hay) : hube, hubiste, hubo, hubimos, hubisteis, hubieron
poder (to be able) : pude, pudiste, pudo, pudimos, pudisteis, pudieron
caber (to be contained, to fit in) : cupe, cupiste, cupo, cupimos, cupisteis, cupieron
saber (to know) : supe, supiste, supo, supimos, supisteis, supieron
poner (to put, to turn on (TV, etc.)) : puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron
componer (to compose), oponer (to oppose), ponerse (to put on (clothes), to set (sun)), suponer (to suppose, to assume)
andar (to walk) : anduve, anduviste, etc.
estar (to be) : estuve, estuviste, estuvo, etc.
tener (to have, to hold) : tuve, tuviste, tuvo, etc.
atenerse (to rely on, to depend on), contener (to contain, to hold, to restrain), detener (to detain, to stop (someone/thing)), detenerse (to stop (oneself)), mantener (to maintain, to support), obtener (to obtain), sostener (to sustain, to support, to maintain)

¡Arriba! 6 + 7 : Irregular Spanish Preterite Verbs, Part II

Part I

e to ie in present, e to i in 3rd person preterite

advertir (to advise, to warn) : advirtió, advirtieron
convertir (to convert) : convirtió, convirtieron
divertirse (to enjoy oneself) : se divirtió, se divirtieron
herir (to harm, to hurt, to wound) : hirió, hirieron
hervir (to boil, to simmer) : hirvió, hirvieron
mentir (to lie) : mintió, mintieron
preferir (to prefer) : prefirió, prefirieron
referir (to refer, to relate) : refirió, refirieron
sentir (to feel sorry, to regret) : sintió, sintieron
sentirse (to feel: well, ill, etc.)  se sintió, se sintieron
sugerir (to hint, to suggest) : sugirió, sugirieron

e to i present, e to i in 3rd person preterite

competir (to compete) : compitió, compitieron
corregir (to correct) : corrigió, corrigieron
elegir (to elect, to select) : eligió, eligeron
erguir (to raise, to stand up straight) : erguí, erguiste irguió, erguimos, erguisteis, irguieron
freír (to fry) : freí, freíste, frió, freímos, freísteis, frieron
gemir (to grieve, to groan) : gimió, gimieron
medir (to measure, to weigh) : midió, midieron
pedir (to ask for, to request) : pidió, pidieron
despedir (to fire, to dismiss), despedirse (to take leave of, to say goodbye to), impedir (to hinder, to prevent)
reír (to laugh) : reí, reíste, rió, reímos, reísteis, rieron
reírse (to laugh), sonreír (to smile)
reñir (to scold, to quarrel) : reñí, reñiste, riñó, reñimos, reñisteis, riñeron
repetir (to repeat) : repitió, repitieron
seguir (to follow, to continue) : siguió, siguieron
conseguir (to attain, to get), perseguir (to pursue, to persecute)
servir (to serve) : sirvió, sirvieron
vestirse (to dress oneself) : se vistió, se vistieron
vestir (to dress), desvestirse (to undress)

¡Arriba! 6 + 7 : Irregular Spanish Preterite Verbs, Part I

In an effort to think outside the book, I’ve made a big ole list of the most common irregular preterite (pretérito) verbs. And what would be the fun in keeping them all to myself?

o to ue in the present, o to u in the preterite (3rd person singular and plural)

dormir (to sleep) : durmió, durmieron
morir (to die) : murió, murieron

inexplicable change in the preterite

dar (to give) : di, diste, dio, dimos, disteis, dieron
ir (to go) : fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron
irse (to go away): me fui, etc.
ser (to be) : fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron
ver (to see) : vi, viste, vio, vimos, visteis, vieron

vin stem in preterite

venir (to come) : vine, viniste, vino, vinimos, vinisteis, vinieron
convenir (to agree, to convene, to be fitting) : convine, etc.

ac to ic, ue to is change in the preterite

hacer (to do, to make) : hice, hiciste, hizo, hicimos, hicisteis, hicieron
deshacer (to undo, to destroy, to take apart) : deshizo, etc.
satisfacer (to satisfy) : satisfice, satisficiste, satisfizo, etc.
querer (to want, to wish) : quise, quisiste, quiso, quisimos, quisisteis, quisieron

add a j baby

atraer (to attract, to allure, to charm) : atraje, atrajiste, atrajo, atrajimos, atrajisteis, atrajeron
conducir (to lead, to conduct, to drive) : conduje, condujeron, etc.
decir (to say, to tell) : dije, dijiste, dijo, dijimos, dijisteis, dijeron
bendecir (to bless, to consecrate), maldecir (to curse), predecir (to predict, to forecast) : all like decir
inducir (to influence, to persuade, to lead) : induje, indujiste, indujo, indujimos, indujisteis, indujeron
introducir (to introduce), producir (to produce, to cause), reducir (to reduce), traducir (to translate) : all like inducir
trae (to bring) : traje, trajiste, trajo, trajimos, trajisteis, trajeron

I’ll let those sink in before going on. But I will remind you that some of these are “go verbs.”