Preterit

Preterit Tense 

The preterit tense is a simple past tense, used to express completion, finality, or specific events.

I went to the store yesterday.
They ate a sandwich for lunch.
One time, I went to Peru.
We exercised five times.

A good acronym for remembering when to use the Preterit tense is SPICY.

Specific – Esta mañana, yo desayuné. This morning I ate breakfast.
Past – El año pasado, yo fui a Cuba. Last year, I went to Cuba.
Interrupting actions – Estaba lloviendo cuando oí el ruido. It was raining when I heard the noise. (Note that heardis the preterit verb)
Completed – Yo hice la tarea.I did the homework. (It is implied that that action is done)
Yesterday…or any time in the past.

-AR Verbs 

Singular Plural
Yo
Nosotros
-amos
-aste
Vosotros
-asteis
El
Ella
Usted


Ellos
Ellas
Ustedes

-aron

 

-ER and -IR Verbs

Singular Plural
Yo
í
Nosotros
-imos
-iste
Vosotros
-isteis
El
Ella
Usted

-ió
Ellos
Ellas
Ustedes

-ieron

 

There are a few word and phrases that can be a hint to use the preterit tense:

entonces – then
de repente – suddenly
de prisa – quickly
entonces – then
en cuanto – as soon as
una vez – one time
any phrase that refers to a specific time or event
Practice

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