Lesson 5 of 15: Talking about the Past – Spanish in 30 min a Day

past tense lesson in spanish

Today, let’s talk about the past.

I know, I know, it’s never fun.

And in fact, you don’t really need to know how to talk in the past tense in order to get your point across in another language.

But it helps!

Expressing the Past in Spanish (El Pasado)

To express the past tense in Spanish, all you have to do is conjugate the verbs you use into the past form like you do in the present tense, how the verbs’ endings change depends on if it ends with “–ar, -er, or –ir”.

But knowing how to conjugate one, you know how to conjugate almost all. (There are a few irregulars.)

The tricky part in Spanish is that there are TWO forms of the past tense.

Noice how the endings of the verbs change according to the subject…

The preterit: Used to express specific, one-time occurrences in the past.

Example: To Work- Trabajar

Yo trabajé
Tú trabajaste
Él/ella trabajó
Ellos/ellas trabajaron
Nosotros trabajamos

The Imperfect: Used to express a recurring occurrence or routine in the past.

Example: To Work- Trabajar

Yo trabajaba
Tú trabajabas
Él/ella trabajaba
Ellos/ellas trabajában
Nosotros trabajabamos

But to express yourself for now using the past, all you need to learn is one form of the past; the most common one, the preterit. Using the preterit EVERYONE will understand you when you talk about the past. Later on you could always learn the imperfect as you improve.

Here is how the verbs conjugate (or change) according to the speaker in the preterit (past) tense.

-ar verbs

To Work- Trabajar

Yo trabajé
Tú trabajaste
Él/ella trabajó
Ellos/ellas trabajaron
Nosotros trabajamos

See how you drop the “-ar” and add the endings according to “who” does the action?

-er and –ir verbs (both –er and –ir verbs change using the same endings in the past)

To go up- Subir

Yo subí
Tú subiste
Él/ella subió
Ellos/ellas subieron
Nosotros subimos

Exercise 2.1: Now you try a couple. Change the verb according to the subject given in the preterit (past) tense.

Example: (vender, tú) vendiste (You sold)

1. (tomar, nosotros) _________
2. (cambiar, ellos) ____________
3. (caminar, yo) ___________
4. (subir, ella) ___________
5. (hablar, tú y yo) ___________
6. (bajar, ellos) _________
7. (salir, él) __________
8. (esperar, yo) _________
9. (rendir, tú) _______
10. (pasar, nosotros) ________
11. (comer, ellos) ________

Hasta manana,

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