TheHistoryNerd_
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Hi there. For my transition work, I have to write an account of my summer in Spanish but if I were to write something like "In the summer I read lots of books" would I use imperfect of preterite? From my understanding. the imperfect tense is used when there's no specific time period (e.g: when I was younger I played football) and preterite is used if I were to use a specific time period such as "yesterday I read".

I've just never fully understood when to use which tense. How specific must the time frame be to use preterite? Does it have to be something like "Yesterday, at 5 o'clock, I ate lunch" ???
Thanks!
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kcsjeo
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Hey, Year 11 here, going to do Spanish A-level in September. I get what you mean! I'm not a native but here's my understanding:

I've always felt that imperfect sentences can be rewritten with the words "used to (verb)", "would" or "was (verb)ing". So with "when I was younger I played football", this might be replaced with "When I was younger I used to/would play football". If you can't express your reading books in the recent summer without sounding distant (used to read), wistful ("would read") or incomplete ("was reading"), you need the preterite.

The preterite describes compact, completed actions. It doesn't matter if the action took place fifteen years ago ("I broke my foot.") or fifteen minutes ago ("I had a shower."). I'm guessing your reading several books (of which I am so jealous btw, could the libraries pleaseeee reopen!) fits that category
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by kcsjeo)
Hey, Year 11 here, going to do Spanish A-level in September. I get what you mean! I'm not a native but here's my understanding:

I've always felt that imperfect sentences can be rewritten with the words "used to (verb)", "would" or "was (verb)ing". So with "when I was younger I played football", this might be replaced with "When I was younger I used to/would play football". If you can't express your reading books in the recent summer without sounding distant (used to read), wistful ("would read") or incomplete ("was reading"), you need the preterite.

The preterite describes compact, completed actions. It doesn't matter if the action took place fifteen years ago ("I broke my foot.") or fifteen minutes ago ("I had a shower."). I'm guessing your reading several books (of which I am so jealous btw, could the libraries pleaseeee reopen!) fits that category
Thanks for the response! I'm also going to be starting Spanish A-level in September too, so that's pretty cool! Your explanation makes sense to me and it's helped me understand it better. Honestly, the Spanish tenses drive me mad! I have a transition tense worksheet that I've been avoiding all summer hoping it will just disappear haha! Thanks again!
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Plantagenet Crown
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(Original post by TheHistoryNerd_)
Hi there. For my transition work, I have to write an account of my summer in Spanish but if I were to write something like "In the summer I read lots of books" would I use imperfect of preterite? From my understanding. the imperfect tense is used when there's no specific time period (e.g: when I was younger I played football) and preterite is used if I were to use a specific time period such as "yesterday I read".

I've just never fully understood when to use which tense. How specific must the time frame be to use preterite? Does it have to be something like "Yesterday, at 5 o'clock, I ate lunch" ???
Thanks!
Imperfect is generally used for a repeated action in the past and it has nothing or little to do with a specific time frame. And preterite is usually used for a completed recent or completed one-time action.

So to say that you played football when you were young you would use imperfect because it was a repeated action in the past: "cuando era joven jugaba al fútbol." However, if you only played football once when you were young you'd say "cuando era joven jugué al fútbol (una vez)". So we can see in this case that the time frame (i.e. being young) is irrelevant to whether we use imperfect or preterite.

Moreover, a specific time frame (i.e. an actual time) isn't needed to use preterite either. I could say "yesterday I ate a cake" and have no idea at what time I actually ate it, yet I would still use preterite because it was a completed, one-off action, i.e. "ayer me comí un pastel".
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TheHistoryNerd_
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(Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
Imperfect is generally used for a repeated action in the past and it has nothing or little to do with a specific time frame. And preterite is usually used for a completed recent or completed one-time action.

So to say that you played football when you were young you would use imperfect because it was a repeated action in the past: "cuando era joven jugaba al fútbol." However, if you only played football once when you were young you'd say "cuando era joven jugué al fútbol (una vez)". So we can see in this case that the time frame (i.e. being young) is irrelevant to whether we use imperfect or preterite.

Moreover, a specific time frame (i.e. an actual time) isn't needed to use preterite either. I could say "yesterday I ate a cake" and have no idea at what time I actually ate it, yet I would still use preterite because it was a completed, one-off action, i.e. "ayer me comí un pastel".
Wow! Thank you!!
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