Simple and imperfect

KristineB2Kwiziq community member

Simple and imperfect

I'm having a tough time knowing when to use the simple past and when to use the imperfect. Could someone walk me through the sentence below and help me understand why we use the different tenses?

Nos alojamos en una casa rural donde no teníamos conexión a internet, pero no era el fin del mundo porque nuestra meta era desconectar y olvidar el estrés.
Asked 9 months ago
InmaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola Kristine

It is as David explained. The use of a simple past is disconnected to the speaker considering this as a completed action, considering there was an end to it, so for example, in the first verb "nos alojamos en una casa rural": the speaker is seeing this as something that started at one point and finished (at the end of their stay) It's seen as disconnected from the time of speaking. The rest is using the imperfect because then the speaker is describing different situations that happened (were happening) during their stay: descriptive usage. 

As for David's suggestion to use the simple past tense in "no fue el fin del mundo", yes, we could do that, it all depends on the speakers perspective. In doing so, the speaker would be seeing this action as something that he experienced in that particular moment (seen as a completed action) instead of describing how he was feeling. 

Kristine, here are some lessons contrasting Indefinido and Imperfecto. I hope they help. 

Indefinido vs Imperfecto (general)

Indefinido vs Imperfecto (time markers)

Saludos

Inma

 

DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Buenas tardes Kristine -

"Nos alojamos" was a specific act -- tied to a well-defined occasion, best translated here as "we booked ourselves into a cottage". Here, it will probably help to consider, [prior to rejecting it] whether "nos alojábamos" could have been appropriate - regarding it as a general description covering the entire weekend -- i.e. in the sense: "we were staying in a cottage..." >> However, the beginning and end of the holiday were clearly defined, so "... we were staying ..." is not really the best expression in this context; the preterite is therefore better). 

The other verbs (particularly "teníamos..." and "[nuestra meta] era...") describe situations which extend over a longish period of time, with no clear beginning and end... > (There was presumably no internet before they arrived and after they left; their intention to disconnect from the world and relax probably dated from before they made the booking).

I'm actually wondering if both alternative tenses might be possible with the fourth verb > In other words, "no fue el fin del mundo" could perhaps be appropriate depending on the context; e.g., if it was implying that the process, 'coming to terms with his disappointment', was focussing just on the instant when Julián discovered that there was no internet.

Saludos,

David M

DavidC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Kristine -

Indicators which suggest that the imperfect tense should be used, include:

(1) If the auxiliary verb "was" or "were" can be placed and makes sense in the English equivalent; e.g. "he was cleaning the floor (when his friend arrived)" > gets translated: "... limpiaba ... llegó" -- because the first part is just background description accompanying the main event (= "when she arrived") .... Unfortunately, this guideline does not usually work with a few verbs, particularly ser and estar, and sometimes with tener (because it is bad English to say, for example, "he was being ...)

(2) If the construction "used to ..." fits the sentence - as in this example given in Silvia's lesson: "I always used to go to Galicia ..." --

Similarly, the third example in that lesson could be reworded: "Every month we used to visit our grandmother".

 

Simple and imperfect

I'm having a tough time knowing when to use the simple past and when to use the imperfect. Could someone walk me through the sentence below and help me understand why we use the different tenses?

Nos alojamos en una casa rural donde no teníamos conexión a internet, pero no era el fin del mundo porque nuestra meta era desconectar y olvidar el estrés.

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