The Preterit tense is one of the two tenses used to describe past actions in Spanish. There are two sets of endings for the preterit tense. One of the sets are for verbs that end in –ar and one for verbs that end in –ir and –er.
There is a group of verbs who’s “yo” form changes in the preterit tense. The infinitives of these verbs end in -car, -gar or -car.
- with verbs that end in –car, you change the “c” to “qu” and add the “yo” form ending. (colocar, to place, becomes “coloqué”)
- with verbs that end in –gar, the “g” is changed to “gu” before adding the “yo” ending. (colgar, to hang, becomes “colgué”)
- with verbs that end in –zar, the “z” is changed to “c”, and as was done before, the “yo” ending form is added. (empezar, to begin/start, becomes “empecé”)
There is another group of verbs that have a spelling change in the preterit. The verbs that belong to this group are the ones that end in –er and –ir who’s stems end in a vowel. For these verbs we focus on the third person singular, el/ella/usted, and plural, ellos/ellas/ustedes. The “i” is changed to a “y” in the preterit ending.
1.The Preterit tense describes events that happened in the past. It implies that the action or event was completed.
- El sol se escondió atras de las nubes. (The Sun hid behind the clouds.)
- Los niños se sintieron avergonzados. (The Children felt ashamed.)
2. There is no distinction for the preterit and the imperfect in English, as it is expressed in the same way. The translations for both of these forms are often the same in English.