The verb to be in Spanish (verb Ser) in the Past Tense in Spanish has two conjugations, Preterite and Imperfect.
Yo fui Yo era
Tu fuiste Tu eras
El fue El era
Ella fue Ella era
Nosotros fuimos Nosotros éramos
Ustedes fueron Ustedes eran
Vosotros Fuisteis Vosotros erais
Ellos/Ellas fueron Ellos/Ellas eran
The difference is as follows:
The Preterite is used for a concluded past event. Please take a look at the examples below:
1. Yo fui policia una vez – I was a police officer once
2. Fueron persistentes y ganaron – They were persistent and they won
3. El viaje fue agotador – The trip was exhausting
The Imperfect the verb to be in Spanish is used for something that happened for an unstated length of time:
1. Yo era policia en ese tiempo – I was a police officer at that time
2. Ellos eran persistentes todo el tiempo – They were persistent all the time
3. Los viajes a casa eran agotadores – The trips home were exhausting
We have to be careful when using the Ser Past Tense, to make sure our ideas are understood as well as it is also important to pay full attention when we are listening to someone or when we are reading, to be able to distinguish the differences.
It is important to remember that most of the time; the pronouns can be omitted in Spanish. In the verb to be in Spanish (Ser Past Tense), the Imperfect conjugation is a lot easier to learn because of the forms of the words; however a few of them have the same conjugation. Therefore, the context will be useful to figure out the difference between each tense. The Preterite is a little harder to remember but it is not an impossible mission and you can aid yourself making a cheat list to carry with you while you are learning these tense.
A good tip is to remember this simple rule: when we use the Ser Past Tense, use the Imperfect unless the action that you are talking about had a specific beginning and ending.
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