Verbs that change meaning in the Preterite and Imperfect

April 3, 2014

Because the preterite tense implies that an action occurred either at a specific time or over a specific period of time, certain verbs change meaning in this tense.

 

CONOCER.

Preterite: To meet someone for the first time.

Ayer conocí a Paula. Yesterday I met Paula.

Ella conoció a su esposo hace 5 años. She met her husband 5 years ago.

 

Imperfect: To know someone from before.

Yo ya conocía a Paula. I already knew Paula.

Ella ya conocía a su esposo cuando tuvo el accidente. She already knew her husband when she had the accident.

 

SABER.

Preterite: To find out, to realize.

Supimos que estabas allí. We found out you were there.

Ayer supe que Pedro es tu primo. Yesterday I found out Pedro is your cousin.

 

Imperfect: To know information.

Sabíamos que estabas allí. We knew you were there.

Sabíamos que Pedro es tu primo. We knew Pedro is your cousin.

 

QUERER.

Preterite: To try, to want to do something and doing it.

Quiso vivir conmigo. He tried to live with me.

María quiso jugar al fútbol con los chicos. María tried to play football with the boys (and she did).

 

Imperfect: To want to do something but not necessarily doing it.

Quería vivir conmigo. He wanted to live with me.

María quería jugar al fútbol con los chicos. María wanted to play football with the boys (and maybe she did maybe she did not)

 

NO QUERER.

Preterite: To refuse, not to want to do something and not doing it.

No quise ir a la playa (and I didn’t go to the beach). I refused to go to the beach. María no quiso jugar al fútbol con los chicos. María refused to play football with the boys.

 

Imperfect: Not to want to do something but not necessarily not doing it.

No quería ir a la playa (and I went to or not). I didn’t want to go to the beach.

María no quería jugar al fútbol con los chicos. María didn’t want to play football with the boys.

 

PODER.

Preterite: To succeed, to manage.

¡Por fin pude encontrarte! At last I managed to find you!

Pudimos terminar el trabajo. We managed to finish the task.

 

Imperfect: Could, to be able to do something (but not necessarily doing it)

Cuando era niña podía jugar por horas. When I was a child I was able to/could play for hours.

Mi hermano podía venir pero al final no vino. My brother was able to/could come but finally he didn’t.

 

NO PODER.

Preterite: To fail to do something, not to succeed in.

No pudimos encontrar la llave. We failed to find the key.

No pudimos terminar el trabajo. We failed to finish the task.

 

Imperfect: Couldn’t, not to be able to do something but not necessarily doing it.    

Cuando llegamos a casa, no podíamos encontrar la llave. When we arrived home we weren’t be able to/couldn’t find the key.

Mi hermano no podía venir. My brother wasn’t able to/couldn’t come.

 

TENER.

Preterite: To have, to possess (at a certain time)/ to experience.

Ayer tuvimos un accidente. Yesterday we had an accident.

Ella tuvo un bebé ayer. She had a baby yesterday.

 

Imperfect: To used to have.

Teníamos accidentes todos los veranos. We used to have accidentes every summer. we weren’t be able to/couldn’t find the key.

Tenía un amigo que era de Australia. I used to had a friend who was from Australia.

 

TENER QUE.

Preterite: To have to do something and doing it.

Tuve que trabajar hasta las 10 de la noche. I had to work until 10pm (and I worked until 10pm).

Tuvieron que viajar por la noche. They had to travel at night (and they travelled at night).

 

Imperfect: To have to do something but not necessarily doing it, to be supposed.

Tenía que trabajar hasta las 10 de la noche. I had to work until 10pm (I worked until 10pm or not)

Tenían que viajar por la noche. They had to travel at night (they travelled at night or not)

Please reload

Featured Posts

Saber vs Conocer

January 17, 2014

1/1
Please reload

Recent Posts

July 12, 2018

July 11, 2015

June 18, 2015

Please reload

SpanishSkype.org - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy