Spanish grammar: Imperfecto or Indefinido?

When to use de “Pasado Imperfecto”, one of the past tenses of the Spanish Language.

 If you are a student of Spanish in Argentina or in other country, and you still don´t understand when to use the pasado imperfect in Spanish, here we will give you some tips to make it easier for you!

 The most important to say is that the pasado imperfecto expresses an action that has occurred in a precedent time in the past.

 This past tense doesn´t tell us when this past action has started or when it has ended.

 This Spanish past tense has a “durative” value of time.

 After all these above mentioned, let´s see now more details of this past tense. Which past situations needs to be told in the imperfect past tense?

We use this past tense to describe people and talk about their age, personality, hair style, eyes color, clothes, likes and dislikes, etc. etc.

 Take a look to the following example:


-¿Cómo era tu abuelo?

-Mi abuelo era un hombre alto y muy fuerte. Era una persona muy inteligente y simpática. Le gustaba caminar mucho y visitar lugares nuevos. Tenía muchos amigos.


 -How was your grandfather like?

 -My grandfather was a tall, strong man. It was a very intelligent and nice person. He liked walking and visiting new places. He had a lot of friends.


In the Spanish language, we use this past tense to describe spaces such as places, villages, houses, buildings.


-¿Dónde vivías cuando eras niño?

-Cuando era niño vivía con mis padres y mis dos hermanos en un pequeño pueblo en la provincia de Tucumán. Era muy tranquilo y la gente era muy amable. Mi escuela estaba a pocas cuadras de mi casa. Era un edificio antiguo. Tenía un patio enorme donde había muchísimas  plantas.


-Where did you live when you were a kid?

– As a child I lived with my parents and my two brothers in a small village in the province of Tucumán. It was very quiet and the people were very friendly. My school was a few blocks from my house. It was an old building. He had a huge patio where there were many plants.

 This example shows how we can ask and answer about how it was a place in a past time. You will notice that we know nothing about the place now. Maybe that place or that building that we are talking about not even exist in the present!

Most of the stories or narratives are written in this past combination with the indefinite past. Here’s an example to understand a little more about the uses of the imperfect past practice. Can you identify the imperfect past in this story?

If you want to know more about  Spanish grammar, don´t miss our next post and let us know if you have questions: our Spanish teachers in Buenos Aires will contact you immediately!


At our Spanish Language School, you will be encourage to speak Spanish from the very first and to interact with local people.