Regular imperfect verbs

Regular imperfect verbs DEFAULT

Spanish Grammar: Imperfect Past Tense with Regular [-AR] Verbs

When speaking about the past in English, you choose which past tense to use depending on the context and the meaning you wish to convey. In Spanish sentences, you choose which past tense you use depending only on the meaning you wish to convey.

Here is how you conjugate [-AR] verbs in the imperfect (past) tense!

 [-AR] Verbs: Imperfect Past Tense Endings

Note, in the NOSOTROS form, the accent mark on the first [a]. This can make a big difference in pronunciation!

Here are some common [-AR] verbs conjugated in the imperfect past tense!

AYUDAR : To help

Él ayudaba a los otros.
He helped others.

CAMINAR : To walk

Yo caminaba por el río cada día.
I walked by the river every day.

CANTAR : To sing

Nosotros cantábamos en el coro.
We used to sing in the choir.

COCINAR : To cook

Ella cocinaba en el restaurante.
She used to cook in the restaurant.

ENSEÑAR : To teach

¿Tú enseñabas inglés in China?
You used to teach English in China?

ESTUDIAR : To study

Ellos estudiaban en la biblioteca cada lunes.
They studied in the library every Monday.

And more…


Spanish Grammar: Imperfect Regular [-ER] and [-IR] Verbs

When speaking about the past in English, you choose which past tense to use depending on the context and the meaning you wish to convey. In Spanish sentences, you chose which past tense you use depending only on the meaning you wish to convey.

Here is how you conjugate [-ER] & [-IR] verbs in the imperfect (past) tense!

 [-ER] & [-IR] Verbs: Imperfect Past Tense Endings

Note how there are accent marks in every verb conjugation!

Here are some common [-ER] & [-IR] verbs conjugated in the imperfect past tense!

BEBER : To drink

Él bebía leche cada día
He used to drink milk every day.

COMER : To eat

Siempre comía pollo los miércoles.
He always ate chicken on Wednesdays.

CORRER : To run

Ellos corrían a la escuela después del desayuno.
They ran to school after breakfast.

VIVIR : To live

Nosotros vivíamos aquí.
We used to live here.

ASISTIR : To attend

Yo asistía a la escuela aquí cuando era joven.
I used to attend school here when I was young.

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The Spanish imperfect tense (el pretéritoimperfectoo copretérito) is used to describe past habitual actions or to talk about what someone was doing when they were interrupted by something else.

Regular Imperfect Forms

There are only two sets of endings for regular imperfect verbs in Spanish, one for -ar verbs and one for both -er and -ir verbs.

To conjugate a regular verb in the imperfect tense in Spanish, simply remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir) and add the imperfect ending that matches the subject.

Check out the table of regular imperfect endings below.

Regular Imperfect Verb Endings

él, ella, usted-aba-ía
ellos, ellas, ustedes-aban-ían

Irregular Imperfect Forms

There are only three verbs with irregular conjugations in the imperfect: ir, ser, and ver. Here they are!

Irregular Imperfect Conjugations

él, ella, usted
ellos, ellas, ustedes

Uses of the Imperfect Tense

In general, the imperfect is used to talk about past actions, conditions, or events that occurred habitually or repeatedly or that were in progress at a point in the past. It is also used to tell time, talk about dates, give a person's age, and describe characteristics, conditions, and feelings in the past. Read on for more about these uses of the imperfect.

1. Habitual or Repeated Actions

Habitual or repeated actions are those that were done over and over in the past. These are often things a person used to or would do.


Almorzábamosjuntos cada día.

We used to eat lunch together every day.

Todos los sábados las mujeresibande compras.

Every Saturday the ladies would go shopping.

2. Actions that Were in Progress in the Past

It's quite common to see the imperfect used to talk about something that was happening when something else occurred. It's also used for actions that continued in the past for an unspecified period of time.

When talking about a past action in progress that was interrupted, the action in progress is in the imperfect, while the interrupting action is in the preterite. For more on the differences between the preterite and the imperfect, check out this article!


Ibaa clase cuando sonó el teléfono.

I was going to class when the telephone rang.

Mi papácocinabacuando entré a casa.

My dad was cooking when I came in the house.

A veces ledolíanlas manos y las piernas.

Sometimes her hands and legs ached.

3. Times and Dates

The imperfect is used to talk about times and dates in the past.


Eranlas tres de la tarde.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon.

Erael 9 de mayo.

It was May 9th.

4. Age

The imperfect is commonly used to talk about age in the past.


La niñatenía4 años.

The little girl was 4 years old.

Los perrosteníandos años cuando los adopté.

The dogs were two years old when I adopted them.

5. Descriptions of Characteristics, Conditions, and Feelings

The imperfect is used to give descriptions in the past, especially those that set the scene in terms of the senses.


Mi profesoreraalto yteníael pelo ondulado.

My professor was tall and had wavy hair.

El campoerabello.

The countryside was beautiful.

Hacíacalor esa noche.

It was hot that night.

Me sentíafeliz con mi trabajo nuevo.

I was happy with my new job.

Queríamudarme a otro país.

I wanted to move to another country.

02 Spanish Lesson - Imperfect - AR verbs

Regular verbs in the imperfect tense

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Regular verbs in the imperfect tense

This is how regular verbs are conjugated in the imperfect tense:


Yo estaba
Tú estabas
Él/ella/usted estaba
Nosotros/as estábamos
Vosotros/as estabais
Ellos/ellas/ustedes estaban


Yo tenía
Tú tenías
Él/ella/usted tenía
Nosotros/as teníamos
Vosotros/as teníais
Ellos/ellas/ustedes tenían


Yo vivía
Tú vivías
Él/ella/usted vivía
Nosotros/as vivíamos
Vosotros/as vivíais
Ellos/ellas/ustedes vivían

The imperfect tense is used to:

  • Describe past actions or routines without specifying when they start and/or end:

Carolina tenía un perro muy juguetón.

Carolina had a very playful dog.

Todos los veranos, el Dr. Macías iba de vacaciones a una playa nudista.

Every summer, Dr Macias went on vacation to a nudist beach.

  • Describe people, things and situations in the past:

Cuando era joven, Betty era muy guapa.

When she was young, Betty was very pretty.

En Buenos Aires, Ana vivía en el barrio de la Recoleta.

In Buenos Aires, Ana lived in the Recoleta neighborhood.

Note: The imperfect tense is often used with these words and expressions: antes (before), muchas veces (many times), en aquella época (at that time), cuando era joven (when I was young), cuando tenía X años (when I was X years old).

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Verbs regular imperfect

The Imperfect Tense

The Imperfect Tense is one of two ways to talk about events that happened in the past in Spanish. The imperfect is used to:

  • describe repeated, habitual, or usual actions in the past
  • describe actions that were ongoing in the past
  • describe what things were like in the past
  • describe time and people's ages in the past

For example:

Usualmente él llegaba a la escuela temprano.
He usually arrived at school early.

Yo dibujaba mientras que ella pintaba.
I was drawing while she was painting.

La ciudad era vieja y sucia.
The city was old and dirty.

Isabel tenía ocho años.
Isabel was eight years old.

For more on when to use the Imperfect Tense, see Using the Imperfect and the Preterite. To learn how to conjugate in the imperfect tense, keep reading:

Regular Imperfect Tense Verbs

The imperfect happens to be one of the easiest tenses to conjugate in Spanish; to conjugate "-ar" verbs, take off the ending and add the following:

"-ar" endings:







This can lead to some rather funny sounding conjugations like trabajaba. Note that there's only one accent mark and it occurs in the nosotros form.

To conjugate "-er" and "-ir" verbs take off the endings and add the following:

"-er" / "-ir" endings:







Notice that there is an accented "i" in every conjugation.

Here are some examples:

Irregular Imperfect Tense Verbs

There are only three irregular imperfect conjugations in the entire Spanish language and they are ir, ser, and ver.


Ir means "to go," and its conjugations sort of look like a hybrid between "-ar" and "-er/-ir" endings:







Please notice that these are full conjugations, not just endings.


Ser means "to be," and it's conjugations are totally irregular:








Ver means "to see" or "to watch." At first glance it may not look irregular; it has the regular endings for verbs, but in this case we're only going to take of the "-r" rather than the "-er" before conjugating:







Spanish Past Tense: Regular, Imperfect ER/IR Conjugation


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