The imperfect tense, or “pasado imperfecto,” is used to talk about ongoing or incomplete actions in the past, habits or routines, descriptions, and simultaneous events in the past.
In this lesson you’ll learn how to conjugate regular -ar, -er, and -ir verbs in the imperfect tense.
Regular -ar verbs
For -ar verbs such as ‘comprar‘ (to buy), ‘ganar‘ (to win), and ‘mirar‘ (to look), the endings are -aba, -abas, -aba, -ábamos and -aban. Here’s how these verbs are conjugated with different subject pronouns:
- Yo compraba (I was buying)
- Tú comprabas (You were buying)
- Él/Ella/Usted compraba (He/She/You(formal) was/were buying)
- Nosotros/Nosotras comprábamos (We were buying)
- Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes compraban (They/You all were buying)
Regular -er verbs
For -er verbs such as ‘vender’ (to sell), ‘leer’ (to read), and ‘aprender’ (to learn), the endings are -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -ían. Here’s how these verbs are conjugated with different subject pronouns:
- Yo vendía (I was selling)
- Tú vendías (You were selling)
- Él/Ella/Usted vendía (He/She/You(formal) was/were selling)
- Nosotros/Nosotras vendíamos (We were selling)
- Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes vendían (They/You all were selling)
Regular -ir verbs
For -ir verbs such as ‘recibir’ (to receive), ‘vivir’ (to live), and ‘compartir’ (to share), the endings are the same as for -er verbs: -ía, -ías, -ía, -íamos, -ían. Here’s how these verbs are conjugated with different subject pronouns:
- Yo recibía (I was receiving)
- Tú recibías (You were receiving)
- Él/Ella/Usted recibía (He/She/You(formal) was/were receiving)
- Nosotros/Nosotras recibíamos (We were receiving)
- Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes recibían (They/You all were receiving)
- “Carlos aprendía francés en sus tiempos libres” (Carlos was learning French in his free time)
- “Mi madre vendía pasteles cuando era joven” (My mother used to sell cakes when she was young)
- “Siempre visitaba a mi madre cuando estaba en la ciudad” (I always used to visit my mother when I was in town)
- “Mi abuelo vivía en el campo” (My grandfather used to live in the countryside)
Remember, conjugation of verbs in the imperfect tense allows us to express actions in the past with a sense of continuity or repetition. With this guide, you should now be able to conjugate Spanish regular verbs in the imperfect tense. Keep practicing and soon it will become second nature!
Check out our series of Complete Spanish Grammar articles – everything you’ll ever need to know about Spanish grammar.
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