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Simple Past in Spanish

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How do you do Simple Past tense in Spanish?

Simple Past in Spanish video

ar, er, ir

The Spanish Preterite Tense is used to describe actions completed at a point in the past.

Tip: The Spanish Preterite is not used to describe habitual or continuous actions in the past with no specific beginning or end. In such cases, the Imperfect Tense is used.

Note: There are only two sets of endings for regular Preterite verbs, one for "- ar" verbs and one for both "- er" and "– ir" verbs. To conjugate a regular verb in the Preterite Tense, simply remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) and add the Preterite ending that matches the subject.

Regular Preterite Verb Endings

 Verbs ending in -ar

Subject-ar Endings

Yo (I)


Usted (You)(Formal)







Subject-hablar-English translation

Yo (I)-hablé-I spoke

 (You)(Informal)-hablaste-You spoke

Usted (You)(Formal)-habló-You spoke

Él/Ella(He/She)-habló-He/She spoke

Nosotros(as)(We)-hablamos-We spoke

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal)-hablasteis-You spoke

Ustedes(You)(Formal)-hablaron-You spoke

Ellos(as)(They)-hablaron-They spoke


 Verbs ending in -er

Subject-er Endings

Yo (I)


Usted (You)(Formal)-ió







Subject-comer-English translation

Yo (I)-Comí-I ate

 (You)(Informal)-Comiste-You ate

Usted (You)(Formal)-Com-You ate

Él/Ella(He/She)-Com-He/She ate

Nosotros(as)(We)-Comimos-We ate

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal)-Comisteis-You ate

Ustedes(You)(Formal)-Comieron-You ate

Ellos(as)(They)-Comieron-They ate


 Verbs ending in -ir

Subject-ir Endings

Yo (I)


Usted (You)(Formal)-ió








Subject-vivir-English translation

Yo (I)-viví-I lived

 (You)(Informal)-viviste-You lived

Usted (You)(Formal)-viv-You lived

Él/Ella(He/She)-viv-He/She lived

Nosotros(as)(We)-vivimos-We lived

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal)-vivisteis-You lived

Ustedes(You)(Formal)-vivieron-You lived

Ellos(as)(They)-vivieron-They lived

Simple Past - Examples. Uses of the Preterite

The Preterite is used to talk about completed actions in the past. More specifically, it is used to talk about beginnings and ends, things that took place on specific days or dates, at specific times or during specific time periods, and events in a sequence.

Completed Events

The Preterite is used to talk about completed events, especially those with very clear beginnings and ends.

Compré un coche nuevo. - I bought a new car.
Humberto y Reina se casaron. - Humbert and Reina got married.
Roberto nac en Costa Rica. -  Roberto was born in Costa Rica.


Beginnings and Ends

Beginnings and ends themselves are also talked about using the Preterite. Key verbs you'll see used to talk about beginnings and ends in the past are empezar (to begin), comenzar (to begin), terminar (to finish), and acabar (to end).

Empezó a nevar. - It began to snow.

La película terminó con una sorpresa. - The movie ended with a surprise.


Specific Times and Dates

The Preterite is used to talk about past events or actions that occurred on specific days or dates, at specific times, and during specific time periods.

Regresé anoche a las diez. - I got back last night at ten.
Viv en Perú por tres meses. - He lived in Peru for three months.
Leíste este libro el mes pasado. - You read this book last month.
Nacho nació el tres de Agosto. - Nacho was born on August third.


Events in a Sequence

The Preterite is used for listing past events that took place in a sequence.

Me levanté, me vestí, y salí para la fiesta. - I got up, got dressed, and left for the party.
Tú entraste, bebiste un vaso de agua y comiste
 una hamburguesa.- You came in, drank a glass of water, and ate a hamburger.

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