#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.

#2 Spanish Imperfect Indicative Verb Tense

(Was eating, Ate, Used to eat)

  • Past tense, incomplete, continuous in the past and when completion is not indicated.
  • Action in the past at the same time as another action: My brother was reading and my father was talking. Mi hermano leía (#2) y mi padre hablaba(#2)
  • An action that was going on in the past when another action occurred: Mi Hermana cantaba (#2) cuando yo entré (#3)
  • Habitual action in the past: Cuando estábamos (were #2) en Fantino, íbamos ( From verb ir =To Go #2 Went, Used to go, would go) al Bon todos los sábados
  • Description of a Mental, emotional or physical condition of the past:
    • Mental Condition: Quería ir al reunion. Common verbs Creer, desear, pensar, poder, preferir, querer, saber, sentir.
    • Emotional Condition: Estaba (I was) contento de verlo
    • Physical Condition: Ella era (was) bonita cuando era joven.
  • Time of day in the past: Que hora era? What time was it? – Eran tres en la tarde. It was 3:00
  • An action that happened in the past, lasted for a certain amount of time and was prior to another event: Hacia (I had been) tres horas que miraba (watching) el televisor cuando mi hermano entró
  • An indirect quotation of the past:
    • Present: Dice (he says) que quire (wants to) venir a mi casa
    • Past: Dijo (he said) que quería (wanted to come) venir a mi casa

#1 Spanish Present Indicative Verb Tense

The Spanish Present indicative verb tense is one of the most commonly used Spanish Tenses. While it is normally used for the present, it can also be used in the present and past at times for a particular emphasis.

  • Present: Estoy cansado – I am tired
  • Habitual: Leo la Biblia cada día.  – I read the bible each day.
  • Permanent truth: Cinco menos dos son tres –  Five minus two is three
  • Emphasis: when talking of past – Tiene Miedo – He was scared
  • Near future: He llega mañana – He arrives tomorrow.
  • Started in the past but continues to now. Often uses Hace: Hace tres horas que miro la television.  – I’ve been watching TV for three hours
  • Almost or nearly when used with Por Poco:  Por Poco me matan – They almost killed me.

Ah yes, those irritating and often embarrassing “exceptions” to the rules, the bane of using cognates (words that have the same or similar meaning in Spanish and English with only minor changes to the word), False Cognates and Simi-False Cognates.

From my Caribbean Spanish section you probably remember that a cognate is a word that you know in English that when said in a Spanish way means the same or a similar thing. A good example; with many words that in English end in “tion”, simply remove the “tion”, replace it with “cion” and add a Spanish accent. For example after reading this you might be in the mood for a celebration, when telling your Spanish friends about the fiesta (party) you only have to remove the “tion” from Celebration and add “cion” to come up with celebración. Party time! you just learned over 100 new Spanish words (check them out on my tion Cognates page).

But as I mentioned in the start of this tutorial this extremely useful shortcut has a problem. False Cognates and Simi-False Cognates! So, what are the difference between the two? (more…)

As in English there are many ways to indicate the future in Spanish. These can be separated into “Future Tense” (I will) and “Conditional Tense” ( I could, I would, I should). While to know Spanish well you will need to learn all of the tenses, you can usually get by with the more simple future tense and fake the others by judiciously adding possibly (posible “po-see-blay”). I’ll work with the conditional tense on another post.

There are two ways to indicate the future tense one is a true conjugation the other is by adding the conjugated verb ir (to go) in front of the verb that you want to do. (more…)

Both of these verbs are among the most important verbs you will need to understand in Spanish. As I mentioned in my Learn Dominican Spanish page, I will try to keep this page down to just the necessities. Because of the complexity of these two verbs as well as their usefulness this is likely to be one of the more confusing subjects I write on.

Both Ser and Estar both mean “To Be” however you use them for circumstances. Both of these verbs are “irregular” so you have to memorize the different tenses. You will use the present tense the most but in time you will need to memorize the future and preterit tenses also.

Use Estar when the condition is more temporary. For example use estar when describing:

  • Location
  • Health and Mood
  • Impressions
  • results of actions

Use Ser to describe the nature of persons of things, things that are not going to change.

Clear as mud right? Keep reading, I’ll be giving some examples that will help you get the idea. Expect to make some mistakes on this one but usually they will understand you even if you use the wrong verb. (more…)

When you are traveling in the DR, sometimes you hear stuff that is completely different than what you are used to. If you don’t speak Spanish, or at least not much of it, some of the following definitions will really come in handy.

“Dejame” Dejame is the word for leave me here. Especially useful if you don’t truly know where you are going and want to brave walking the rest of the way. Also heard “Me deja” and “Donde puede”

“Cuanto debe pagar” is as simple as could be, “How much should I pay?” It is better to ask someone else that is in the car with you then to ask the public car driver directly, usually if they see that you are white or from Spain, they will raise the prices to double, sometimes triple the usual cost.

“Al (city)” This is meant to be used when trying to find where to go after renting a taxi. For example if you are looking to go to Sosua, you can tell the driver “Al Sosua” or “To Sosua!” See below for more. (more…)

One of the fastest ways to Learn Dominican Spanish and build your Spanish Vocabulary easily is to get the hang of Cognates. Cognates are words that have the same or a very similar meaning in Spanish as in English and are spelled the same except for one or two small differences.

For this tip we are going to work with “tion” cognates. While this doesn’t work with all English words ending with “tion” it does with the vast majority of them. Simply change the English “tion” with “cion” and put an accent on the “on”. Unlike in English, this ending is broke into 2 syllables “ci” (pronounced like “sea” in English) and “on” (pronounced like “own” in English).

Now for your instant vocabulary boost. Remember, if you can’t figure out the English word, replace the “cion” with “tion” and you will figure it out. (more…)

After memorizing the most important Spanish verbs, you should next learn how to conjugate these verbs. The most important tense to learn is the “Present” tense. You will use this one far more than any of the other tenses, and if necessary you can use this tense and fake other tenses like “past” and “future”, but I will get to that a little later in this article.

While you can normally get your point across by using a personal pronoun (in English I, you, he/she/it, we, they) and following by the verb in the infinitive form (the form you memorize the verbs in), somewhere along the line you are going to get tired of people laughing at you and you are going to need to learn how to conjugate the verbs.

Most important Spanish verbs.

On my Learn Dominican Spanish page I promised I would help you learn Spanish that will provide the most benefit with the least amount of work to help you to be able to start communicating in a Spanish speaking country. These are the verbs that I find to be most frequently used in the Dominican Republic. They are pretty much the “Must Learn” verbs so I will try to keep this list as short as possible. Every one speaks a little differently so be prepared to add and delete from this list as you become more familiar with Spanish.

Bottom line: you should memorize and practice these verbs, you are likely to use them every day that you spend in a Spanish Speaking country. (more…)

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