Using the verb estar in El Imperfecto vs. El Indefinido

The verb estar changes its meaning depending on whether it is used in El Pretérito Imperfecto or in El Pretérito Indefinido.

Read and listen to these examples with verb estar in El Pretérito Imperfecto:

Martina estaba deprimida.
Martina was depressed. (We are not sure or it doesn't matter how Martina is feeling now.)

Los cuadros estaban en el museo.
The paintings were in the museum. (We are describing a situation where the timeframe is not relevant.)

In the examples above, we are talking about an action/situation in the past but we do not consider the beginning or the end to be relevant. We don't know if the paintings are still in the museum, or if Martina is still depressed.

Now, read and listen to these examples with verb estar in El Pretérito Indefinido:

Martina estuvo deprimida.
Martina was depressed. (We know Martina is no longer depressed; she is feeling better now.)

Los cuadros estuvieron en el museo.
The paintings were in the museum. (We are describing a situation where the condition is either no longer true or not relevant.)

In the examples above, we are talking about an action in the past but we know there is a beginning and an end, and the situation or action is no longer current.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Los cuadros estuvieron en el museo.
The paintings were in the museum. (We are describing a situation where the condition is either no longer true or not relevant.)


Los cuadros estaban en el museo.
The paintings were in the museum. (We are describing a situation where the timeframe is not relevant.)


Martina estuvo deprimida.
Martina was depressed. (We know Martina is no longer depressed; she is feeling better now.)


Martina estaba deprimida.
Martina was depressed. (We are not sure or it doesn't matter how Martina is feeling now.)


Q&A

Be the first to ask a question!

Thinking...