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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 écompr amosvend ívend imosviv íviv imos
compr astecompr asteisvend istevend isteisviv isteviv isteis
compr ócompr aronvend vend ieronviv 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)
pedípedimosdormídormimos
pedistepedisteisdormistedormisteis
pidiópidierondurmiódurmieron

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)
creícreímosoímos
creístecreísteisoísteoísteis
creyócreyeronoyóoyeron

 

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.

andaranduv-anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis, anduvieron
cabercup-cupe, cupiste, cupo, cupimos, cupisteis, cupieron
estarestuv-estuve, estuviste, estuvo, estuvimos, estuvisteis, estuvieron
decirdij-dije, dijiste, dijo, dijimos, dijisteis, dijeron
hacerhic-hice, hiciste, hizo, hicimos, hicisteis, hicieron
poderpud-pude, pudiste, pudo, pudimos, pudisteis, pudieron
ponerpus-puse, pusiste, puso, pusimos, pusisteis, pusieron
sabersup-supe, supiste, supo, supimos, supisteis, supieron
tenertuv-tuve, tuviste, tuvo, tuvimos, tuvisteis, tuvieron
traertraj-traje, trajiste, trajo, trajimos, trajisteis, trajeron
quererquis-quise, quisiste, quiso, quisimos, quisisteis, quisieron
venirvin-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
fuifuimosfuifuimosdidimosvivimos
fuistefuisteisfuistefuisteisdistedisteisvistevisteis
fuefueronfuefuerondiodieronviovieron

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Learn more about the Preterite vs Imperfect in Spanish here.

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