In the last lesson, you learned that the preterite is used for past actions that are seen as completed. You also learned how to conjugate regular -ar verbs. In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate -er and -ir verbs, and become more familiar with the uses of the preterite.
To conjugate regular -ar verbs in the preterite, simply drop the ending (-ar) and add one of the following:
é aste ó amos asteis aron
To conjugate regular -er and -ir verbs in the preterite, simply drop the ending (-er or -ir) and add one of the following:
í iste ió imos isteis ieron
Here are all three regular preterite verb forms together:
Note: the nosotros forms for -ar and -ir verbs are the same in both preterite and present tenses: hablamos, vivimos.
The preterite is used for actions that can be viewed as single events.
Ella caminó por el parque. She walked through the park.
Ellos llegaron a las ocho. They arrived at eight o'clock.
The preterite is used for actions that were repeated a specific number of times, or occurred during a specific period of time.
Ayer escribí tres cartas. Yesterday I wrote three letters.
Vivimos allí por cuatro años. We lived there for four years.
The preterite is used for actions that were part of a chain of events.
Ella se levantó, se vistió, y salió de la casa. She got up, dressed, and left the house.
The preterite is used to state the beginning or the end of an action.
Empezó a nevar a las ocho de la mañana. It began to snow at eight in the morning.
The above examples all fall within our general rule for using the preterite:
The preterite is used for past actions that are seen as completed.
Let's add two more flashcards for regular -er and -ir verbs in the preterite tense: