#3 Preterit Past Tense

(“I did eat” of “I ate”)

The Spanish Preterit or Pretérito is a verb tense that was completed in the past.

  • Mi padre llegó (arrived, did arrive) ayer
  • ¿Qué pasó? (What happened?)

Some verbs can have a somewhat different meaning in the preterit form. These can take a little getting used to.

  • Tener: “To Have” Changes to “received” Tuve (I received) un regalo.
  • Conocer: “To Know” In the sense of knowing someone. Changes to “met” La conocí (I met) ayer.
  • Querer: “To Want” Changes to “tried to” Quise (I tried to) de llamarte.
  • Querer (Negative): Changes to “refused” No Quiso (he refused) a cambiar de opinión
  • Saber: “To Know” in the sense of knowing a fact. Changes to “found out” Supe (I found out) la verdad.
  • Poder: “To be able to” Changes to “succeeded. Pude (I succeeded) hacerlo
  • Poder (Negative): Changes to “failed” No Pude (I failed) hacerlo.

Fortunately there isn’t too many of these verbs where the meaning changes in preterit form so you pretty much just need to memorize them.