1) The pretérito indefinido allows us to talk about what we did in the past, which if you’re a beginner is such an exciting rite of passage into the Spanish-speaking world. Not longer are you confined to talk in the present tense … finally you can say yesterday I ate enchiladas for lunch.
2) The pretérito indefinido has an amazing diversity of verb forms. This might not sound so awesome but as you become more familiar with it, you will start to love the way it works. There are regular verbs, irregular verbs and irregular verbs that are ... well ... regular (more on this below).
In this blog we look at a few common verbs and their pronunciation to help you along. If you’re keen to delve deeper into the pretérito indfinido then why not sign up to one of our Verb Workshops in the Autumn Intensives? To nut out this tense (and others) try Verb Workshop Past and Verb Workshop Past PLUS.
Although pronunciation differs from country to country (and even town to town!), Spanish has two main variants: the Spanish that is spoken in Central and Northern Spain, known as Castilian in English (from Castile where the language was born), and the Spanish that is spoken in Southern Spain, the Canary Islands and Hispanic America, referred to in English as Atlantic Spanish.
The audio that accompanies each verb may contain two versions of the pronunciation, Castilian Spanish and Atlantic Spanish, the difference being:
Castilian: the sound (soft) TH – used for Z before A, O, U and C before E, I (tha, tho, thu, the, thi – the TH sound is soft like in THING)
Atlantic: the sound S used for all the above (sa, so, su, se, si)
Verb forms and phrases with words that differ in pronunciation in this way are marked with an asterix (*).
If you're a Safari user, you may have some trouble playing the audio as there is a problem with Soundcloud's compatibilty with Apple apps.
If you don't hear any audio, click into the timeline to start playback.
|Anoche cené con Alberto y Juan en su casa*||Last night I had dinner with Alberto and Juan at their place|
|Comimos demasiado en la fiesta del sábado||We had too much to eat at the party on Saturday|
|¿A qué hora saliste del trabajo anoche?||What time did you get out of work last night?|
Note that SALIR is regular in el pretérito indefinido but irregular in the present tense (remember salgo..?)
|Estuve en Costa Rica en septiembre del año pasado||I was in Costa Rica in September last year|
IR / SER
Yes, that's right: IR and SER both have exactly the same forms in the pretérito indefinido!
|Fui a la playa el año pasado||I went to the beach last year|
|Fui profesor durante 10 años||I was a teacher for 10 years|
|¿Visteis alguna película en el festival de cine?*||Did you guys see any films in the film festival?|
|Y luego el domingo tuve un dolor de cabeza tremendo*||And then on Sunday I had the worst headache ever|
|Hicieron espaguetis y luego de postre una tarta de queso ... mmm ¡qué rico!*||They made spaguetti and then cheesecake for dessert... mmm so yummy!|
Even though so many of the verb forms for the pretérito indefinido are irregular, thankfully a lot of the irregular verbs follow patterns.
For example, ESTAR and TENER both follow the same pattern (both have –uv– in the stem):
Other verbs that follow this same pattern are ANDAR and any other verb than ends in –TENER (OBTENER, MANTENER, CONTENER, etc.)
Another example are verbs that follow the same pattern as HACER, such as VENIR (both have –i– in the stem):
These are just a couple of examples to whet your appetite... there are many, many more!
To discover the ins and outs of el indefinido in its entirety, sign up to Verb Workshop Past in the Autumn Intensives to learn the forms, and sign up to Verb Workshop Past PLUS to learn its uses (along with the pretérito perfecto, and the pretérito imperfecto).
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By Craig Burgess, images Penelope Ray
November 22, 2017
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