Conjugate and recognise ir and ser in El Pretérito Indefinido (simple past)

The verbs ser (to be) and ir (to go) have identical conjugations in El Pretérito Indefinido (the simple past):

yo fui    I was/went
fuiste    you were/went
él / ella / ud.  
fue    he was/went 
nosotros / nosotras 
fuimos    we were/went
vosotros / vosotras 
fuisteis      you were/went 
ellos / ellas / uds.  
fueron
   they were/went
You can tell which verb is meant by the presence of the preposition a after the verb. Ser is never followed by a, but ir always is!

Read and listen to these examples: 

Yo fui el primero de mi clase el año pasado.
I was the first in my class last year.

Yo fui a casa de mi abuela la semana pasada.
I went to my grandmother's house last week.

fuiste campeón de natación hace dos años.
You were a swimming champion two years ago.

fuiste a Buenos Aires en enero.
You went to Buenos Aires in January.

Él fue alpinista en su juventud.
He was a climber in his youth.

Ella fue a la peluquería ayer.
She went to the hairdresser yesterday.

Nosotras fuimos responsables de ese proyecto.
We were responsible for that project.

Nosotras fuimos a la playa el pasado agosto.
We went to the beach last August.

Vosotros fuisteis amigos durante la infancia.
You were friends during childhood.

Vosotros fuisteis a San Sebastián en primavera.
You went to San Sebastian in the spring.

Ellos fueron muy famosos el año pasado.
They were very famous last year.

Ellas fueron al cine.
They went to the cinema.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nosotras fuimos a la playa el pasado agosto.
We went to the beach last August.


Él fue alpinista en su juventud.
He was a climber in his youth.


Ellos fueron muy famosos el año pasado.
They were very famous last year.


Ella fue muy alegre toda su vida.
She was very happy all her life.


Él fue a comprar fruta.
He went to buy fruit.


fuiste a Buenos Aires en enero.
You went to Buenos Aires in January.


Vosotros fuisteis amigos durante la infancia.
You were friends during childhood.


Usted fue a casa de su tía la semana pasada.
You went to your aunt's house last week.


Vosotros fuisteis a San Sebastián en primavera.
You went to San Sebastian in the spring.


Ellas fueron al cine.
They went to the cinema.


¿Ustedes fueron al concierto ayer?
Did you go to the concert yesterday?


fuiste campeón de natación hace dos años.
You were a swimming champion two years ago.


¿Ellas fueron pintoras durante los sesenta?
Were they painters during the sixties?


Yo fui a casa de mi abuela la semana pasada.
I went to my grandmother's house last week.


Ella fue a la peluquería ayer.
She went to the hairdresser yesterday.


Nosotras fuimos responsables de ese proyecto.
We were responsible for that project.


Yo fui el primero de mi clase el año pasado.
I was the first in my class last year.


¿Vosotras fuisteis estudiantes de la Universidad de Salamanca?
Were you students of the University of Salamanca?


Q&A Forum 9 questions, 17 answers

CathieC1Kwiziq community member

Preterite vs. Imperfect

It sounds strange to me to say Ellos fueron amigos. Isn't it better to say Ellos eran amigos, when there is no time specification?

Asked 3 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Cathie

I imagine you are referring to this sentence in one of the questions for this lesson:

Él fue mi amigo. (He was my friend)

It is, as you say, more common to see and say "él era mi amigo" using the imperfect, but we can also use the Preterite tense here. In this case we are seeing this "friendship" as something that took place and finished, had an end; therefore the preterite makes sense. 

If we say "Él era mi amigo", then we are not seeing this friendship with an end. It is simply describing a situation in the past, more as an ongoing action.

We have a lesson on using SER in the preterite and the imperfect and their difference here.

I hope this helps and clarifies your doubt.

Un saludo cordial

Inma

Preterite vs. Imperfect

It sounds strange to me to say Ellos fueron amigos. Isn't it better to say Ellos eran amigos, when there is no time specification?

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LilouC1Kwiziq community member

Bug with the rate

Hello,

I have a bug. With some lessons, I can't achieve 100%, it stays at the same level.

Could you do something ?


Thanks !

Asked 3 months ago
ShuiKwiziq team member

Hola Lilou

Thank you for alerting us to the problem, the next time you kwiz your score should adjust correctly (I wrote to you about this same problem on another thread also!)

Saludos

Shui

Bug with the rate

Hello,

I have a bug. With some lessons, I can't achieve 100%, it stays at the same level.

Could you do something ?


Thanks !

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NicoleB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

re: irrelevant (imperfect)

You answered a question at the bottom this section  (to Papi on April 16,            2018) and said:

This sentence could be using both "fui" and "era" depending on the the timeframe when the action happened, being more specific (preterite) or more irrelevant (imperfect).

Could you expand a bit on the "irrelevant (imperfect)" which is an interesting perspective, I hadn't come across before. 

Point in quiz being referred to:

Mi prima ________ Miss Universo. .My cousin was Miss Universe HINT: Conjugate "ser" in Pretérito indefinido

Asked 6 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Valerie

Yes, of course. If we use the sentence with the imperfect "era" we don't see the time when that happened as relevant, so we don't think of it as a specific time in the past. However when we use the preterite "fue" we see it as a completed action that had a beginning and an end. 

This nuance is not specific to verb ser. It happens with all verbs. Here is another example:

1. Marta trabajaba en una tienda.

2. Marta trabajó en una tienda.

With sentence 2,  we can see the action as finished, so Maria working in the shop had a beginning and an end. With sentence 1, the time is not relevant. We are simply saying that she worked in a shop. She may still be working there...

I hope this clarifies it a bit more.

Saludos.

Inma

BettyA2Kwiziq community member

Think of the imperfect as a timeline and the preterite as a point on that timeline.

NicoleB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

This is such a brilliant answer!  Thank you so much!

re: irrelevant (imperfect)

You answered a question at the bottom this section  (to Papi on April 16,            2018) and said:

This sentence could be using both "fui" and "era" depending on the the timeframe when the action happened, being more specific (preterite) or more irrelevant (imperfect).

Could you expand a bit on the "irrelevant (imperfect)" which is an interesting perspective, I hadn't come across before. 

Point in quiz being referred to:

Mi prima ________ Miss Universo. .My cousin was Miss Universe HINT: Conjugate "ser" in Pretérito indefinido

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RickyA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

ese or este?

Nosotras fuimos responsables de ese proyecto.
We were responsible for this project.

Shouldn't this be "este proyecto?"

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Corrected!

Gracias Ricky.

ese or este?

Nosotras fuimos responsables de ese proyecto.
We were responsible for this project.

Shouldn't this be "este proyecto?"

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RickyA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

a la casa?

For:

Yo fui a casa de mi abuela la semana pasada.
I went to my grandmother house last week.

Why is this not fui a la casa rather than fui a casa?

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hi Ricky,

Both options are correct "Yo fui a casa de mi abuela" or "Yo fui a la casa de mi abuela".

When we talk about going to places we generally use the article el/la, e.g Voy a la peluquería (I am going to the hairdressers), Vamos a la playa (We are going to the beach). However when we go to people's houses to visit them we tend to omit the article, so it is more common to see "Voy a casa de...". It is also a question of style and it may also be regional.

There is a very subtle nuance when you use the article as well. If you say "Voy a la casa de mi abuela" it doesn't necessarity mean you are going to see her, but you are simply going to the place. If you omit the article "Voy a casa de mi abuela", people generally understand you are visiting.

I hope this helped,

Inma

MatthewA2Kwiziq community member
subtle*
InmaKwiziq team member

Gracias :))

a la casa?

For:

Yo fui a casa de mi abuela la semana pasada.
I went to my grandmother house last week.

Why is this not fui a la casa rather than fui a casa?

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ValerieB1Kwiziq community member

Sorry. Didn't finish the question! So what I call the preterito, you call the preterito indefinito? And imperfecto de indicative, you call pret.im

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hi Valerie

Here is a list of tense names that will probably help.

https://spanish.kwiziq.com/spanish-tense-names

ValerieB1Kwiziq community member
Thank you!

Sorry. Didn't finish the question! So what I call the preterito, you call the preterito indefinito? And imperfecto de indicative, you call pret.im

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ValerieB1Kwiziq community member

Could you give me a list of names for the verb tenses? I keep mistaking preterito imperfecto for preterito indefinite

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Valerie

Here is a list with tense names.

It will probably help.

https://spanish.kwiziq.com/spanish-tense-names

Inma

Could you give me a list of names for the verb tenses? I keep mistaking preterito imperfecto for preterito indefinite

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AllisonC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

The answer I just got wrong was "Yo fui de la fiesta". Your note in this lesson says ser is always followed by "a"

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Allison

The note in the lesson is saying that "Ser (to be) is not followed by preposition "a" but Ir (to go) is followed by preposition "a".

In the sentence "Yo fui a la fiesta", fui means "I went..." not "I was".

I hope this clarifies your doubt.

Gracias

Inma

AllisonC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
The example is "Yo fui DE la fiesta."
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Allison

I do apologise. You are absolutely right. That question is showing a different preposition after "fui" as "went" and that is very confussing. I will remove that question from that lesson.

For your information "ir de fiesta" is an idiom which means "to party", that's why.

I hope that makes more sense now.

Thank you very much for reporting this.

Saludos

Inma

PaulA1Kwiziq community member

Tambíén

"Fui de compras" I wnet shopping

The answer I just got wrong was "Yo fui de la fiesta". Your note in this lesson says ser is always followed by "a"

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PapiB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Would it not be imperfect?

One of the questions in this section was:

Mi prima ________ Miss Universo. .My cousin was Miss UniverseHINT: Conjugate "ser" in Pretérito indefinido

I got this correct (fue), because of the section it is in, but would it not be better to use the imperfect for this example?  Mi prima era Miss Universo.   There is no time frame involved, outside of being in the past.  Does it really matter? Just wondering.  Thank you.

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hi Papi

We haven't put any emphasis on the timeframes in this lesson as it is all to do with verbs IR and SER having the same form in the preterite. This sentence could be using both "fui" and "era" depending on the the timeframe when the action happened, being more specific (preterite) or more irrelevant (imperfect). We are at the moment doing a lesson to differenciate verb "ser" in the preterite and in the imperfect so you will have more information very soon :))

Saludos

Inma

Would it not be imperfect?

One of the questions in this section was:

Mi prima ________ Miss Universo. .My cousin was Miss UniverseHINT: Conjugate "ser" in Pretérito indefinido

I got this correct (fue), because of the section it is in, but would it not be better to use the imperfect for this example?  Mi prima era Miss Universo.   There is no time frame involved, outside of being in the past.  Does it really matter? Just wondering.  Thank you.

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