Imperfecto y pretérito indefinido

TonyA1Kwiziq community member

Imperfecto y pretérito indefinido

Hello, I am not clear why “estaba” is used (imperfecto) but all the other verbs are in the pretérito tense. I have read all the lessons on this subject but still nearly always get the tense wrong. I think the guidance is that the pretérito is used when there is a specific beginning and end - but is that not the case with “mucha gente no estaba de acuerdo”?  Many thanks, Tony

Asked 10 months ago
JohnC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Tony, There is no doubt that the issue of pretérito imperfecto versus pretérito indefinido is difficult for English speakers. I still struggle with this issue at times, and the teachers will give you a better answer than I can, but I will share a bit of what I have learned.

1. I really recommend that you work your way through the supporting lessons. Also read carefully any explanations / answers which the teachers give to these questions when they arise, here in the Q&A section. There is a lot to learn and it takes a while to absorb.

2. Is the sentence really describing an action that was completed at a particular time? "Elizabeth was appointed Queen and many people disagreed."  It would be very true to life that they disagreed when it was first announced, and for some time after. So this is "open-ended" in terms of a completion, and hence the imperfecto. 

3. It is descriptive of what was happening at the time. The appointment of the Queen would have been a precise and completed action at a given point of time, but the disagreement would have been part of the narrative or background. 

3. This is a separate point from your question, but it contributes to understanding the nuances of these past tenses. There is a brilliant lesson pasted below which talks about what the writer is trying to communicate when they are using these two past tenses. Saludos. John

 Using the imperfect vs the preterite in Spanish (general use)

InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Tony

Yes, what John is explaining is spot on. The ability to distinguish between the uses of the preterite and the imperfect tense is one of the most difficult things to master in Spanish. The continuous practice of this topic is essential to keep progressing and understanding the different nuances. 

In that specific sentence using "estaba" we are presenting this bit of information as background information (descriptive), as opposed to an action where there is a clear beginning and end. I re-read the paragraph and I understand why it might be a bit difficult to figure this out with all the previous sentences using the preterite instead. We will add a hint in that part so the need of the imperfect tense becomes more obvious.

There are two Kwiziq lessons that may be useful to revise.

This is the one John suggested: 

Using the imperfect vs the preterite (general)

And this other one:

Using the imperfect (descriptive use)

I hope they help.

Saludos

Inma

ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

John, you've given a great explanation of these tenses here. I hope many learners get to see it. 

Imperfecto y pretérito indefinido

Hello, I am not clear why “estaba” is used (imperfecto) but all the other verbs are in the pretérito tense. I have read all the lessons on this subject but still nearly always get the tense wrong. I think the guidance is that the pretérito is used when there is a specific beginning and end - but is that not the case with “mucha gente no estaba de acuerdo”?  Many thanks, Tony

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