Spanish past tense conjugation is necessary for describing situations and events that have already happened. Once you learn these conjugations, you’ll be able to talk about so much more with friends and family!
Next, we’re going to take your verb 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 the present tense.
How to Conjugate Verbs in the Spanish Preterite
It’s important to note that Spanish has two types of past tenses: the preterite and the imperfect. Here, we’ll start with Spanish preterite conjugations and review the imperfect in a future post.
The Spanish preterite tense is a way to express the past, and it breaks down verbs into five different endings. Keep reading to learn how to change a verb into its past tense form.
Conjugating -AR Verbs in the Spanish Preterite
Here is an example using the Spanish verb mirar (to watch). First, shave off the -ar ending. Then…
- 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. (This is the same as present tense conjugation!)
- If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –aron, to form miraron.
Conjugating -ER Verbs in the Spanish Preterite
Now let’s use comer (to eat), as an example. First, shave off the -er ending. Next…
- If you are referring to Yo or ‘I,’ use 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.
Conjugating -IR Verbs in the Spanish Preterite
Conjugating -ir verbs shares the same rules as conjugating -er verbs. See the following chart as an example.
Vivir (to live):
SEE ALSO: 75 Most Helpful Spanish Cognates
Ready for some Spanish past tense conjugation practice? Fill out the following chart:
12 Irregular Spanish Preterite Endings
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 are the 12 verbs, also known as “the dirty dozen.”
Let’s conjugate estar as an example:
Estar (to be):
Now that you know how to conjugate Spanish past tense verbs, you’re once step closer to becoming fluent in Spanish! As always, it’s a great idea to work with a Spanish tutor who can help you work through these concepts and provide extra guidance as needed.
You can also take online Spanish classes to get even more practice conjugating verbs in everyday conversation. Buena suerte!
Photo by John Loo