In Spanish, past tense conjugation is important for describing situations and events that have already happened. When you learn these conjugations, you’ll be able to talk about much more! Read on as tutor Jason N. reviews…
Next, I’m going to show you how to take your conjugation skills to an even higher level. This involves learning Spanish past tense conjugation, so that you aren’t restricted to only describing actions in present tense. Spanish has two types of past tenses, the preterite and the imperfect; we’ll start with Spanish preterite conjugations and review imperfect in another post.
Identical to the present tense, the preterite tense is a way to express the past in Spanish, and it also breaks down verbs into five different ending variants. By now you have probably realized how it works and subsequently can use the formula below that makes it so easy, it will become second nature. Here’s the recap again:
How to Conjugate –ar Verbs in the Preterite Tense
As we have already used the example of the Spanish verb mirar (to watch), let’s stick with the same example:
– Shave off the -ar ending
– If you are referring to Yo or ‘I,’ add the letter é to end the conjugated verb, forming miré.
– If you are referring to Tú or ‘you,’ use the ending –aste, to form miraste.
– If you are referring to él or ella or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use the ending –ó to form miró.
– If you are referring to nosotros or ‘we,’ use the ending –amos to form miramos. (Yes, this is the same as present tense!)
– If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –aron, to form miraron.
How to Conjugate -er Verbs in the Preterite Tense
Let’s take comer (to eat), for example:
– Shave off the -er ending
– ‘Yo’ uses the ending –í, (instead of é) to form comí.
– If you are referring to Tú or ‘you,’ use the ending –iste, to form comiste.
– If you are referring to él or ella or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use the ending –ió, to form comió.
– If you are referring to nosotros or ‘we,’ use the ending –imos, to form comimos.
– If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –ieron, to form comieron.
How to Conjugate -ir Verbs in the Preterite Tense
Conjugating -ir verbs shares the same rules with conjugating -er verbs. See the following charts of key preterite verb conjugations:
Mirar (to watch):
Comer (to eat):
Vivir (to live):
Ready for some Spanish past tense conjugation practice? Conjugate the following:
What About the “Dirty Dozen?”
There are 12 core verbs in Spanish that have irregular past tense conjugations in the preterite tense. Fortunately their main endings are similar to what we’ve already learned in this post: –é, –iste, -ó, –imos, –isteis, –ieron/*eron. Here they are:
Here’s estar as an example:
Estar (to be):
Not too difficult, right? As always, I recommend a Spanish tutor to help you work your way to being able to discussing events in the past tense adeptly.
Photo by John Loo