Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense is possibly the easiest to learn. This is because there are only three irregular verbs in the imperfect: ir, ser and ver. All other Spanish verbs follow a consistent conjugation pattern in the imperfect. There are two sets of endings for the imperfect: one for AR verbs and one for ER/IR verbs. Let’s look at the imperfect form of AR verbs.

Imperfect of AR Verbs

Here are the endings for AR verbs in the imperfect. We’ll use the verb caminar (to walk) as our example.

CAMINAR (to walk)

Subj. Pron. Verb Conj. English
yo caminaba I was walking; I used to walk
caminabas you were walking; you used to walk
usted caminaba you were walking; you used to walk
él (ella) caminaba (s)he was walking; (s)he used to walk
nosotros(as) caminábamos we were walking; we used to walk
vosotros(as) caminabais you all were walking; you all used to walk
ustedes caminaban you all were walking; you all used to walk
ellos(as) caminaban they were walking; they used to walk

For all other AR verbs, simply use the same endings that you see highlighted above. There are no irregular AR verbs in the imperfect tense. Here are some complete sentences containing AR verbs in the imperfect.


Rodolfo estudiaba mucho. Rodolfo used to study a lot.
Mis hermanos cocinaban y yo miraba la televisión. My brothers were cooking and I was watching TV.
Yo visitaba a mi abuela cada fin de semana. I used to visit my grandmother each weekend.
Mi familia y yo viajábamos a la playa cada verano. My family and I used to travel to the beach each summer.

Imperfect of ER and IR Verbs

ER and IR verbs share identical endings in the imperfect. You should be able to learn these quickly. Let’s look at the examples of comer (to eat) and vivir (to live).

COMER (to eat)

Subj. Pron. Verb Conj. English
yo comía I used to eat; I was eating
comías you used to eat; you were eating
usted comía you used to eat; you were eating
él (ella) comía (s)he used to eat; (s)he was eating
nosotros(as) comíamos we used to eat; we were eating
vosotros(as) comíais you all used to eat; you all were eating
ustedes comían you all used to eat; you all were eating
ellos(as) comían they used to eat; they were eating

VIVIR (to live)

Subj. Pron. Verb Conj. English
yo vivía I used to live; I was living
vivías you used to live; you were living
usted vivía you used to live; you were living
él (ella) vivía (s)he used to live; (s)he was living
nosotros(as) vivíamos we used to live; we were living
vosotros(as) vivíais you all used to live; you all were living
ustedes vivían you all used to live; you all were living
ellos(as) vivían they used to live; they were living

With the exceptions of ir, ser and ver, all ER and IR verbs are conjugated in the imperfect according to the above pattern. Here are several complete sentences containing ER and IR verbs in the imperfect.


Juanita escribía un poema cada día. Juanita used to write a poem each day.
Nosotros abríamos las ventanas a menudo durante la primavera. We used to open the windows often during the spring.
Mi padre leía el periódico mientras nosotros jugábamos a las cartas. My dad was reading the newspaper while we were playing cards.
Jaime siempre hacía su tarea muy tarde. Jaime always did his homework very late.
La casa de mi abuela tenía cinco dormitorios y tres baños. My grandmother’s house had five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Mi amigo y yo corríamos en el parque después de clase. My friend and I used to run in the park after class.







Irregular Imperfect Verbs

Unlike the preterite, with so many irregular verbs, the imperfect has only three: ir, ser and ver. Let’s look at how to conjugate these now.

IR (to go)

Subj. Pron. Verb Conj. English
yo iba I used to go; I was going
ibas you used to go; you were going
usted iba you used to go; you were going
él (ella) iba (s)he used to go; (s)he was going
nosotros(as) íbamos we used to go; we were going
vosotros(as) ibais you all used to go; you all were going
ustedes iban you all used to go; you all were going
ellos(as) iban they used to go; they were going

SER (to be)

Subj. Pron. Verb Conj. English
yo era I used to be; I was
eras you used to be; you were
usted era you used to be; you were
él (ella) era (s)he used to be; (s)he was
nosotros(as) éramos we used to be; we were
vosotros(as) erais you all used to be; you all were
ustedes eran you all used to be; you all were
ellos(as) eran they used to be; they were

VER (to see)

Subj. Pron. Verb Conj. English
yo veía I used to see; I was seeing
veías you used to see; you were seeing
usted veía you used to see; you were seeing
él (ella) veía (s)he used to see; (s)he was seeing
nosotros(as) veíamos we used to see; we were seeing
vosotros(as) veíais you all used to see; you all were seeing
ustedes veían you all used to see; you all were seeing
ellos(as) veían they used to see; they were seeing

Here are some complete sentence examples of irregular imperfect verbs.

Yo iba a estudiar en el parque pero empezó a llover. I was going to study in the park but it began to rain.
Marisa era mi mejor amiga cuando yo era níño. Marisa was my best friend when I was a child.
Mis amigos y yo veíamos una película cada viernes. My friends and I used to see a movie each Friday.




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