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Old 24th March 2009, 06:49 PM   #1
Dany
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Default Indefinido y Imperfecto

Hola!

Estoy un pocito desesperada!
Desde unos dias busco una explicacion muy facil cuando tengo que utilisar el indefinido y cuando los Espanoles utilisan el imperfecto.
Por supuesto buscaba (busque?) en mis libros de gramatica pero es un poco desconcertante.
?Quizas hay una regla simple o no hay otra solucion de aprender de memoria? Como Ben dice en el podcast "hammer it in".

Muchos saludos
Dany
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Old 24th March 2009, 07:04 PM   #2
greytop
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The simplest way for me is to think of something happening once or for a fixed period in the past whilst something else has been happening over a period of time. The single/defined action is the simple past tense (preterito indefinido) and the ongoing event is the past imperfect (imperfecto).
But this is grammar we're discussing so there will be exceptions you can be sure .

To get an idea think about : When I worked in Spain I went to a concert.
worked - imperfect, went - preterite
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Old 24th March 2009, 07:27 PM   #3
Legazpi
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Originally Posted by greytop View Post
To get an idea think about : When I worked in Spain I went to a concert.
worked - imperfect, went - preterite
I think it would be better to say "When I was working in Spain I went to a concert".

The "when I was working" provides the background setting - what was going on at the time - so you use the imperfect: "cuando trabajaba in españa"

The "I went to a concert" provides the particular piece of information you want to convey - what happened - so you use the preterite: "fui a un concierto"
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Old 24th March 2009, 10:35 PM   #4
gastephen
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To add to what has already been said, another use of the imperfect is for repeated, habitual or customary actions in the past. When what you want to say can be expressed in English in terms such as "I used to..." or "Back then I would*...", then it's the imperfect you're after in Spanish.

Por las mañanas iba a la escuela In the mornings I used to/would go to school

*in English would has two different meanings - a) conditional, e.g. If I were rich, I would travel; b) imperfect, e.g. When I was a student I would often go to the cheap music shops.
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Old 25th March 2009, 02:19 PM   #5
Dany
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Gracias,
vuestros posts estan una buena ayuda.
Yo traze un grafico pequeno y de colores (porque soy un tipo visual) y todo esta claro...
(pero primeramente sin exepciones...)
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Old 26th March 2009, 02:46 AM   #6
lazarus1907
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dany View Post
Desde unos dias busco una explicacion muy facil cuando tengo que utilizar el indefinido y cndo los espanoles utilizan el imperfecto.
We use those tenses whenever any other Spanish speaker of the world does (yes, like Latin American speakers too).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dany View Post
Por supuesto buscaba (busque?) en mis libros de gramatica pero es un poco desconcertante.
Languages are not cooking recipes where you just add a bit of flour and sugar, and you get a cake. Rules are just given for general guidance, and not to be used like the Bible, but there you go:

You use preterite when you want to describe a past action that you want to present a whole, i.e. delimiting its temporal range, and therefore, implying that whatever the verb means, was fulfilled or completed. The whole action is viewed "from outside".

Imperfect is used when we don't want to imply anything about the completeness of the verbal action, so our "listeners" can focus on the action as it happened, with complete disregard about whether it ended or not, since that may be told later. The action is viewed from "inside", as it happens, as if the past were the present, where you can't see the future.

If you say "buscaba", we'll assume that you want us to imagine you looking for that information (in the past), but you don't want us to consider the possibility that you stopped looking for it, so we hold this thought for the moment, with you looking for it, until you continue your narrative, because obviously you haven't finished telling me what happened as you looked for that information (otherwise, you wouldn't be using this tense). If you mean to say that you looked for it, and you reached a point were you stopped looking for it, then you are looking at the whole "look for information" action as complete, and therefore, you want to use preterite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greytop View Post
The simplest way for me is to think of something happening once or for a fixed period in the past whilst something else has been happening over a period of time. The single/defined action is the simple past tense (preterito indefinido) and the ongoing event is the past imperfect (imperfecto).
Your rule may help you in many cases, but it is going to let you down often, because both tenses (imperfect & preterite) can be used either for things that happened in the past once, or several times. The "ongoing" one is a better rule, but it needs clarification.
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Old 26th March 2009, 11:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazarus1907 View Post
Languages are not cooking recipes where you just add a bit of flour and sugar, and you get a cake.
Pero no es una mala idea comprar la gramatica con una receta de cucina.
Ahora ya tengo unas ingredientes, voy a mesclar todo y tengo un fondo bueno que entonces puedo sazonar poco a poco.
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