Considering estar can be used in the preterite and imperfect with the present participle ( gerund ), are they used in different ways? Or do they mean the same thing? For example, do:
"Estuve corriendo" and "estaba corriendo" mean the same thing? I was running. Is one used more than the other for any reason?
yes, they are used in different ways. We use the past progressive with the Indefinido (simple past) when the ongoing action is "inside a timeframe in the past", however the past progressive with the Imperfecto (imperfect tense) is used to "describe" an ongoing action in the past without mentioning a specific timeframe. See these two examples: "El chico estuvo bailando durante una hora" (The boy was dancing for an hour)[timeframe] vs "El chico estaba bailando en la discoteca" (The boy was dancing in the disco)[descriptive].
We will have a lesson comparing these two tenses next week.
Thanks for your question. I hope it is clear now.
Thank you for responding! However, I still need a little more clarification. I the "Pretérito Imperfecto" section you state:
"I was at the supermarket" would be "Yo estaba/estuve en el supermercado." (from "estar")"I went to the supermarket" would be "Yo iba/fui al supermercado." (from "ir")Bear in mind that we can use both the Imperfecto (estaba) or the Indefinido (estuve) in the first sentence, as well as in the second sentence we could use the Imperfecto (iba) or the Indefinido (fui).
- Does this imply that if you have a timeframe, then use the past progresive with "pretérito indefinitivo"? Because, in your expanation in the "Pretérito Imperfecto" section, it appears that it may be possible that either may be used. I am guessing that it is because there is no time frame stated. Am I interpreting this correctly? Or am I missing the boat?!
Thanks for coming back to us for more clarification. It is very important for us to make sure the lessons are very clear to everyone.
Despite using both progressive tenses (indefinido and imperfecto) to express ongoing actions in the past, as said before, the imperfect progressive will be used with a descriptive function and where the beginning and end of the action is not relevant. And the indefinido progresivo will be used when in the mind of the speaker there is a timeframe, with a beginning and an end, in which that ongoing action took place. Saying this, it is fair to say that it is more likely to find those time phrases when we use the Indefinido progresivo:
Carlos estuvo bailando de 10 a 12 de la noche.
Carlos estaba bailando.
However, you will also find sentences in El indefinido progresivo with no mention at all of a timeframe. That is because it is obvious in the conversation and it is not mentioned any more. When you see these, you need to think of it as an ongoing action in the past that had an end.
Have a look at this new lesson comparing both tenses that we promised last week. Please let us know if you still need more clarification as we understand the Imperfect and the Simple past need quite a lot of practice.
The Spanish imperfect progressive vs the Spanish preterite progressive (was +ing)
Un saludo cordial
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