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Preterite tense Spanish verbs

The preterite tense in Spanish is used to discuss actions in the past that are viewed as completed, over or accomplished.

Regular verbs – To conjugate past tense regular verbs, drop the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, -ir) and add the following endings.

-ar
-er
-ir
comprar – (to buy) vender – (to sell) vivir – (to live)
compr é compr amos vend í vend imos viv í viv imos
compr aste compr asteis vend iste vend isteis viv iste viv isteis
compr ó compr aron vend vend ieron viv viv ieron

 

Stem changing verbs – Present tense stem changers do not undergo the same changes in the preterite.  Only -ir verbs have stem changes in the Ud., Uds., él, ella, ellos and ellas form.

e > i
o > u
pedir – (to ask for) dormir – (to sleep)
pedí pedimos dormí dormimos
pediste pedisteis dormiste dormisteis
pidió pidieron durmió durmieron

e > iconseguir (to get), divertirse (to have fun), mentir (to lie), pedir (to ask for), preferir (to prefer), repetir (to repeat), seguir (to follow / continue), servir (to serve)

o > u – dormir (to sleep), morir (to die)

 

Irregular third-person form verbs – Verbs that have a vowel before the  -er and -ir infinitive endings change from -ió and -ieron to -yó and –yeron.  The other endings stay the same.

-er
-ir
creer (to believe) oír (to hear)
creí creímos oímos
creíste creísteis oíste oísteis
creyó creyeron oyó oyeron

 

caer (to fall), creer (to believe), leer (to read), oír (to hear), huir (to flee), incluir (to include), construir (to construct), atribuir (to attribute)

 

Irregular stems – the following verbs’ stems change in the preterite tense.  Note that the endings also differ from the regular preterite endings.

andar anduv- anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis, anduvieron
caber cup- cupe, cupiste, cupo, cupimos, cupisteis, cupieron
estar estuv- estuve, estuviste, estuvo, estuvimos, estuvisteis, estuvieron
decir dij- dije, dijiste, dijo, dijimos, dijisteis, dijeron
hacer hic- hice, hiciste, hizo, hicimos, hicisteis, hicieron
poder pud- pude, pudiste, pudo, pudimos, pudisteis, pudieron
poner pus- puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron
saber sup- supe, supiste, supo, supimos, supisteis, supieron
tener tuv- tuve, tuviste, tuvo, tuvimos, tuvisteis, tuvieron
traer traj- traje, trajiste, trajo, trajimos, trajisteis, trajeron
querer quis- quise, quisiste, quiso, quisimos, quisisteis, quisieron
venir vin- vine, viniste, vino, vinimos, vinisteis, vinieron

 

Irregular verbs – the following verbs are irregular in the preterite and do not follow any other pattern.  Note that ser and ir are the same in the preterite.

ser
ir
dar
ver
fui fuimos fui fuimos di dimos vi vimos
fuiste fuisteis fuiste fuisteis diste disteis viste visteis
fue fueron fue fueron dio dieron vio vieron

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Learn more about the Preterite vs Imperfect in Spanish here.

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