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Old 6th March 2009, 09:07 AM   #1
Katy
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Default Estaba y estuvo

We were discussing how you would say "dinner was delicious on Saturday" in Spanish. As estaba and estuvo both mean "was" which one would you use?
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Old 6th March 2009, 09:39 AM   #2
aleCcowaN
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"Estuvo", when you say "dinner was delicious on Saturday", and nothing else. But if you say "I remember last Saturday. Dinner was delicious and we were listening to ...., when ...", we use "estaba".
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Old 6th March 2009, 10:24 AM   #3
lazarus1907
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Originally Posted by Katy View Post
We were discussing how you would say "dinner was delicious on Saturday" in Spanish. As estaba and estuvo both mean "was" which one would you use?
Both mean "was", but we make a distinction with these tenses that English can't do with the verb alone (it is done through context and extra words). Very often, you'll find that you can use either preterite or imperfect where in English you'd use the simple past tense, but in Spanish you'll be unavoidably providing extra information with either tense, so your sentence will just be different, sometimes it will be a big difference, sometimes only a nuance (depending on the context and the verb).

Preterite is used when you want to look at the whole finished action from an outside perspective (later in time); imperfect is used when you want to look at the action from inside, as it was happening, without considering when is it going to finish.

So, what if you don't want to provide this aspectual information outside/inside? Well, you can't. It is embedded in the tenses, so you must chose one every time. And this goes for all verbs.

Last edited by lazarus1907; 6th March 2009 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 6th March 2009, 11:15 AM   #4
Legazpi
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Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
"Estuvo", when you say "dinner was delicious on Saturday", and nothing else. But if you say "I remember last Saturday. Dinner was delicious and we were listening to ...., when ...", we use "estaba".
I think that a better way to convey the meaning of the imperfect to an English speaker would be to translate:

"Recuerdo sabado pasado. La cena estaba bueno y escuchabamos a .... cuando ..."

to

"I remember last Saturday. We were having a delicious dinner and listening to ...., when ..."

You can say "... dinner was delicious ..." instead, however it's unclear whether the speaker means it in the imperfect or the preterite sense.

I think that using the gerund/continuous tense in English does a better job of showing how the imperfect is used to "describe what was going on at the time" rather than "communicate that a particular action took place".
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Old 6th March 2009, 12:12 PM   #5
aleCcowaN
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Originally Posted by Legazpi View Post
"I remember last Saturday. We were having a delicious dinner and listening to ...., when ..."

You can say "... dinner was delicious ..." instead, however it's unclear whether the speaker means it in the imperfect or the preterite sense.
Yes, you're right. Thank you!

The same false expectation ("was" is "estuvo" or "estaba" here? -one choice for "the" one meaning-) can occur the other way round ("estuvo" and "estaba" is surely "was" here! -one choice for every meaning-). Troubles in learning a foreign language of which I also have my great deal.

It's difficult to answer the very question in this thread. Not only we have imperfect and simple perfect, but "ser" and "estar" and dinner being and event -what would claim using "ser"- but delicious refering to food. It also comes to the arena how to express one's likings, that is, using "ser" and "estar" to convey the idea of personal opinion or general opinion.

As a "standing alone" phrase, if you say

La cena del sábado estuvo deliciosa.

it means "it was delicious, everybody agreed on that". Also it's the matter of event, because "La cena del sábado fue excelente" means that all the event was good: charming conversation, exquisite food, ... an evening to remember. But with

La cena del sábado estaba deliciosa.

it may mean you enjoyed it -it's your opinion it was delicious-, or maybe you are comparing that meal with the one you're taking now (-said with face of being chewing cardboard- "la cena del sábado estaba deliciosa").
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