Mastering the preterite tense, or past simple tense, is a fundamental aspect of Spanish.
This tense is used to describe completed actions.
In this post, we’ll cover how to conjugate regular -ar, -er, and -ir verbs.
Preterite Tense for Regular -ar Verbs
The regular -ar verbs in the preterite follow this pattern:
- Yo: -é
- Tú: -aste
- Él/Ella/Usted: -ó
- Nosotros/Nosotras: -amos
- Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes: -aron
For example, ‘hablar’ becomes ‘hablé‘ (I talked), ‘hablaste‘ (you talked), ‘habló‘ (he/she/you formal talked), ‘hablamos‘ (we talked), and ‘hablaron‘ (they/you formal talked).
Preterite Tense for Regular -er and -ir Verbs
For regular -er and -ir verbs in the preterite, the endings are identical:
- Yo: -í
- Tú: -iste
- Él/Ella/Usted: -ió
- Nosotros/Nosotras: -imos
- Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes: -ieron
For instance, ‘comer’ becomes ‘comí‘ (I ate), ‘comiste‘ (you ate), ‘comió‘ (he/she/you formal ate), ‘comimos‘ (we ate), and ‘comieron‘ (they/you formal ate). Similarly, ‘vivir’ becomes ‘viví’ (I lived), ‘viviste‘ (you lived), ‘vivió‘ (he/she/you formal lived), ‘vivimos‘ (we lived), and ‘vivieron‘ (they/you formal lived).
Here are a few example sentences using the preterite tense:
- Yo hablé con mi amigo ayer. (I talked to my friend yesterday.)
- Nosotros comimos pizza para la cena. (We ate pizza for dinner.)
- Ellos vivieron en México por tres años. (They lived in Mexico for three years.)
Regular preterite verb conjugation is an essential building block in Spanish. The more you use and practice these patterns, the more instinctive they’ll become.
Check out our series of Complete Spanish Grammar articles – everything you’ll ever need to know about Spanish grammar.
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