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Spanish Past Tense: Preterite vs. Imperfect

Lesson Plans by Lourdes Fernandez

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Spanish Preterite vs. Imperfect Tense Lesson Plans


Learning the difference between the preterite and imperfect tenses in Spanish is a lengthy, challenging, and often frustrating task. Students must first master regular conjugations for each, and then the irregulars. Next, students must understand the basic concept behind using the preterite versus using the imperfect. The following activities aim to help students grasp these concepts and put them into practice with visual aids!

Student Activities for Preterite vs. Imperfect Include:



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The chart below simplifies the uses into general categories; however, the application is often much more complex. In general, the preterite tense is used to convey an idea of completed action in the past, something perceived to have a definite beginning and end, even if it’s not directly stated. In contrast, the Spanish imperfect tense is used to imply an ongoing or incomplete action in the past. It is used for actions that don’t have a defined beginning and end.


Preterite Imperfect
Completed Action Incomplete Action
Interrupting Action Interrupted Action
Repeated/Habitual Action
Description

Some of the activities in this lesson plan are designed to isolate these concepts for the student to practice. Others give students the opportunity to piece it all together. However, it is beneficial (but not required) for students to know their conjugations before completing any of the activities.

To extend the activities, allow students to practice speaking and pronunciation! This works especially best with the narrative activity, as students will be able to present their completed story to the class.


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Prefer a different language?

•   (English) Preterite vs. Imperfect   •   (Español) Pretérito vs. Imperfecto   •   (Français) Pretérité vs Imparfait   •   (Deutsch) Preterite vs Unvollkommen   •   (Italiana) Passato Imperfetto vs.   •   (Nederlands) Praeteritum vs. Imperfect   •   (Português) Pretérito vs. Imperfeito   •   (עברית) Preterite לעומת Imperfect   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) Preterite مقابل ناقص   •   (हिन्दी) भूत-काल बनाम अपूर्ण   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Претерите Против Несовершенной   •   (Dansk) Præteritum vs Imperfect   •   (Svenska) Preteritum vs. Imperfect   •   (Suomi) Preteriti vs. Imperfect   •   (Norsk) Preteritum vs. Imperfect   •   (Türkçe) Preterite Karşı Imperfect   •   (Polski) Preteryt a Niedoskonały   •   (Româna) Preterit vs. Imperfect   •   (Ceština) Préteritum vs. Nedokonalá   •   (Slovenský) Preterite vs. Imperfect   •   (Magyar) Praeteritum vs. Tökéletlen   •   (Hrvatski) Preterite Protiv Nesavršenog   •   (български) Претрийт Срещу Несъвършен   •   (Lietuvos) Preterite vs Netobulas   •   (Slovenščina) Preterite vs. Nepopolne   •   (Latvijas) Preterite vs Nepilnīga   •   (eesti) Minevik vs Puudulik