Using the preterite tense in Spanish for completed actions in the past

El Pretérito Indefinido for completed actions

We use El Pretérito Indefinido for completed actions in the past.

It can refer to a single action or actions that happened more than once.

Nosotros nos mudamos a Londres en 2012.We moved to London in 2012.

The example above shows a single action that takes place in the past.

El verano pasado fuimos a la playa todos los sábados.Last summer we went to the beach every Saturday.

The example above shows an action that took place several times in the past.

But in both examples the actions are completed. They are no longer taking place. 

There are some time phrases that will generally trigger the use of El Pretérito Indefinido

Here are some:

  • El año pasado
  • El otro día
  • Ayer
  • Anoche
  • El mes pasado
  • Hace 3 días
  • El verano pasado
Read and listen to these other examples:

Ayer fui al cine con Daniel.Yesterday I went to the cinema with Daniel.

El año pasado Laura dio juguetes a los niños pobres.Last year Laura gave toys to poor children.

El mes pasado los artistas cantaron en Barcelona.Last month the artists sang in Barcelona.

Ustedes llegaron hace dos días.You arrived two days ago.

See also El Pretérito Indefinido

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Examples and resources

Charlamos con los padres de los estudiantes de 5 a 7.We chatted with the student's parent from 5 till 7.
A las 3 en punto sonó el teléfono.At 3 o'clock the phone rang.
Ustedes llegaron hace dos días.You arrived two days ago.
Ayer fui al cine con Daniel.Yesterday I went to the cinema with Daniel.
El año pasado Laura dio juguetes a los niños pobres.Last year Laura gave toys to poor children.
Nosotros nos mudamos a Londres en 2012.We moved to London in 2012.
El mes pasado los artistas cantaron en Barcelona.Last month the artists sang in Barcelona.
El verano pasado fuimos a la playa todos los sábados.Last summer we went to the beach every Saturday.
Ayer vi a Daniela en el instituto.Yesterday I saw Daniela at the school.
El otro día me llamó mi abuela tres veces.The other day my grandma called me three times.
Me casé en el 2017 y mi hija nació en el 2019.I got married in 2017 and my daughter was born in 2019.
El verano pasado alquilamos una apartamento en la playa.Last summer we rented an apartment at the beach.
El sábado pasado fuimos al restaurante chino nuevo.Last Saturday we went to the new Chinese restaurant.
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