Spanish PRETERITE TENSE, called PRETÉRITO INDEFINIDO in Spanish, is probably the most important tense you have to learn along with the present tense.
Spanish preterite tense conjugation regular verbs
The preterite tense in Spanish is formed just by dropping the ending (-ar, -er, -ir) and adding those indicated in red below:
1. Verbs ending in –er and -ir have the same endings.
2. The “nosotros” forms for -ar and -ir verbs are the same in the preterite and present tense, therefore you will have to pay attention to the “temporal expressions“:
Nosotros siempre hablamos español (We always speak Spanish).
Ayer hablamos español en una reunión importante (Yesterday we spoke Spanish in an important meeting).
Normalmente escribimos muchos mensajes en el trabajo (We usually write many emails at work).
Anteayer escribimos un mensaje muy importante (The day before yesterday we wrote a very important email).
3. Especially relevant is the accent in “yo, él, ella, usted“, it will help us not to mistake the preterite tense with the present or the imperative:
Ramón compró un libro (Ramon bought a book).
Compro muchos libros (I buy many books).
Escuché la noticia en la radio (I listened to the news on the radio).
Sr. Fernández, escuche la noticia (Mr. Fernández, listen to the news).
4. The PRETERITE is used to describe a complete action in the past, for example when in English you say “did something”.
Spanish preterite tense practice and quizzes
Now it is time to practice everything you have learned with the quizzes below. Finally, don’t forget to contact your tutor with any question you have about the preterite tense in Spanish. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?
Preterite tense irregular verbs
A group of important verbs is irregular in the preterite tense (no as many as in the present). Click on the link to start working with them, but first, make sure you are confident with the regular ones.