|Imperfect-Past Actions |
The imperfect is used for actions in the past that are not seen as completed. Using the imperfect implies that the action did not have (or we don't know about it) a definite beginning/end or both, or that the beginning or end of the event is not important or relevant. Many times the imperfect is used to express a repetitive or habitual action that occurred in the past.
1. For actions that were habitual/customary
2. For actions that "set the stage" for another past action. (description of background information)
3. An action in progress
Él trabajaba en Costa Rica...
4. For telling time
5. For stating one's age
6. Usually for mental states (creer/querer/poder/estar)
7. To describe people, things or conditions
|Preterit-Past Actions |
The preterite is used for actions in the past that are seen as completed. Using the preterite implies that the past action did have a definite beginning/end or both (or that we are clear about).
1. Actions that were repeated a specific number of times.
2. For actions that occured during a specific period of time.
3. Interruption of an action in progress-action that caused the interruption
cuando su hijo nació.
4. Chain of events, one after another.
5. To state the beginning or end of an action