Spanish Imperfect Past

Learn the rules and uses of the imperfect past in Spanish and how to conjugate regular and irregular verbs


The imperfect past can be used in the following situations.

The imperfect is used to express habitual actions and actions that were repeated in the past.

Él trabajaba los viernes y sábados.
He worked Fridays and Saturdays.

Mi papá leí el periódico todas las mañanas.
My dad read the newspaper every morning.

The imperfect tense is used to express the age of a person in the past using the verb 'tener'.

Tenía 20 años cuando se murio.
He was 20 years old when he died.

Roberto tenía 23 años cuando se casó.
Roberto was 23 years old when he got married.

The imperfect tense is used to express an hour or the time that an event occurred in the past.

Daban las doce cuando todos salían a comer.
It struck twelve when everyone left to eat.

Eran las cinco de la tarde cuando aterrizo el avión.
It was five in the afternoon when the plane landed.

The imperfect tense is used to express an interrupted action in the past.

Yo leía cuando el teléfono sonó.
I was reading when the telephone rang.

Hablábamos con María cuando Jose se desmayó.
We were speaking with Maria when Jose fainted.

The imperfect tense is used to describe people, animals and objects in the past.

Mi hermana era gorda.
My sister was fat.

La casa era grande y tenía un jardín hermoso.
The house was large and had a beautiful garden.

The imperfect tense is used to express an action that began in the past and continued in the past using the following formations: Cuanto + expression of time + hacia + que + imperfect tense and Hacia + expression of time + que + imperfect tense.

Hacía una semana que salía del hospital.
A week ago we left the hospital.

¿Cuánto tiempo hacía que tú querías viajar?
How long has it been since you've wanted to travel?

Learn how to conjugate imperfect tense verbs in Spanish


Learn to conjugate regular verbs in the imperfect that end in 'ar', 'er' and 'ir'.


Learn to conjugate irregular verbs in the imperfect tense.


Practice conjugating imperfect past tense verbs in Spanish with hundreds of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank quizzes. Click here for a free 7 day trial.

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