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Irregular Past Tense Spanish Verbs
Spanish Irregular verbs can be difficult. Some verbs are more difficult to learn than others but because these verbs are used so frequently they will be quickly remembered. This article concentrates on the past tense of these irregular Spanish verbs.
The Imperfect Tense
The imperfect tense is used to refer to actions in the past that occurred repeatedly such as,
I used to walk home every day - Caminaba cada día
It is also used to refer to actions in the past that happened over an extended period.
I used to eat paella frequently - Comía frecuentemente paella
And for "setting the stage" for a past event.
We were coming home when we saw Juan - Veníamos para casa cuando vimos a Juan
Non physical actions such as feelings and thoughts will also usually use the imperfect tense,
Juan was feeling sick - Juan estaba enfermo
In Spanish there are two sets of regular verb endings for the imperfect tense, one is used for verbs ending in -ar and the other for verbs ending in -er and -ir, these ending rarely change even when used with irregular verbs and are as follows;
"Regular" Spanish irregular verbs in the imperfect tense:
Enviar (to send)
Yo envi -aba (I was sending); tú envi -abas (you were sending); el/ella envi -aba (he/she was sending); nosotros envi -ábamos (we were sending); vosotros envi -abais (you were sending) and ellos/ellas envi -aban (they were sending)
Tener (to have)
Yo ten -ía (I was having); tú ten -ías (you were having); el/ella ten -ía (he/she was having); nosotros ten -íamos (we were having); vosotros ten -íais (you were having) and ellos/ellas ten -ían (they were having)
Decir (to say)
Yo dec -ía (I was saying); tú dec -ías (you were saying); el/ella dec -ía (he/she was saying); nosotros dec -íamos (we were saying); vosotros dec -íais (you were saying) and ellos/ellas dec -ían (they were saying)
There are two exceptions to the regular pattern of the imperfect tense and they are the important verbs 'ser' (to be) and 'ir' (to go) which will both need learning independently and are conjugated as follows;
Ser (to be)
Yo er -a (I was); tú er -as (you were); el/ella er -a (he/she was ); nosotros ér -amos (we were); vosotros er -ais (you were) and ellos/ellas er -an (they were)
Ir (to go)
Yo ib -a (I was going); tú ib -as (you were going); el/ella ib -a (he/she was going); nosotros íb -amos (we were going); vosotros ib -ais (you were going) and ellos/ellas ib -an (they were going)
The Preterite Tense
The preterite tense is used frequently and is used to describe past action that are seen as having been completed. As with the Imperfect tense the stem of the verb is used with the tense endings and again there are two sets of endings, one set for verbs ending in ar and the other for ir and er verbs.
"Regular" Spanish irregular verbs in the preterite tense:
Enviar (to send)
Yo envi -é (I sent); tú envi -aste (you sent); el/ella envi -ó (he/she sent); nosotros envi -amos (we sent); vosotros envi -asteis (you sent) and ellos/ellas envi -aron (they sent)
Coger (to take)
Yo cog -í (I took); tú cog -iste (you took); el/ella cog -ió (he/she took); nosotros cog -imos (we took); vosotros cog -isteis (you took) and ellos/ellas cog -ieron (they took)
Salir (to leave)
Yo sal -í (I left); tú sal -iste (you left); el/ella sal -ió (he/she left); nosotros sal -imos (we left); vosotros sal -isteis (you left) and ellos/ellas sal -ieron (they left)
Unlike the imperfect tense there are a number of verbs that have irregularities in the formation of the preterite tense and to list them all along with their many differences would be too big a job for this article.
The most commonly used irregular past tense verbs in the preterite tense are; estar (to be), dar (to give), haber (to have), tener (to have), poner (to put), hacer (to do,make), poder (to be able to, can), querer (to want), ser (to be), decir (to say) and ir (to go). All of which are very different and will each need learning individually.
For more information on irregular past tense Spanish verbs and to obtain a FREE Spanish verb conjugation book visit http://www.irregularspanishverbs.com