Preterite: Part I

Notes:

  1. The written lesson is below.
  2. Links to quizzes, tests, etc. are to the left.

In the last lesson, you learned that the preterite is used for past actions that are seen as completed. You also learned how to conjugate regular -ar verbs. In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate -er and -ir verbs, and become more familiar with the uses of the preterite.

To conjugate regular -ar verbs in the preterite, simply drop the ending (-ar) and add one of the following:

é
aste
ó
amos
asteis
aron

To conjugate regular -er and -ir verbs in the preterite, simply drop the ending (-er or -ir) and add one of the following:

í
iste

imos
isteis
ieron

Here are all three regular preterite verb forms together:

hablarcomervivir
hablécomíviví
hablastecomisteviviste
hablócomióvivió
hablamoscomimosvivimos
hablasteiscomisteisvivisteis
hablaroncomieronvivieron

Note: the nosotros forms for -ar and -ir verbs are the same in both preterite and present tenses: hablamos, vivimos.

The preterite is used for actions that can be viewed as single events.

Ella caminó por el parque.
She walked through the park.

Ellos llegaron a las ocho.
They arrived at eight o’clock.

The preterite is used for actions that were repeated a specific number of times, or occurred during a specific period of time.

Ayer escribí tres cartas.
Yesterday I wrote three letters.

Vivimos allí por cuatro años.
We lived there for four years.

The preterite is used for actions that were part of a chain of events.

Ella se levantó, se vistió, y salió de la casa.
She got up, dressed, and left the house.

The preterite is used to state the beginning or the end of an action.

Empezó a nevar a las ocho de la mañana.
It began to snow at eight in the morning.

The above examples all fall within our general rule for using the preterite:

The preterite is used for past actions that are seen as completed.

Let’s add two more flashcards for regular -er and -ir verbs in the preterite tense:

Verb Flashcards
Complete List

Preterite: regular -er


-iste
-ió

-imos
-isteis

ieron

comí, comiste, comió, comimos, comisteis, comieron

Preterite: regular -ir verbs


-iste
-ió

-imos
-isteis

ieron

viví, viviste, vivió, vivimos, vivisteis, vivieron