The Truth about Pretérito Imperfecto or Indefinido (Preterite). Spoiler: Both Can Be Correct. (Part 2)

What is more correct? Pretérito Imperfecto or Indefinido?

The difference between imperfecto and indefinido. Click here for the transcript for this video-podcast is. This is the second episode of a series of two on this topic. Click here for the first one. 


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We usually study the contraste de pasados: imperfecto e indefinido (Preterite), or Past Tense Contrast. It is something you need to learn, of course. In fact in this video you will see examples of this contrast. However, these types of sentences are a bit like zooming in on a «problem» for students that is broader than just that sentence. With this video I want to zoom out on this «problem». I want to focus on the whole picture, and the whole picture is how to tell a story in the past tense. This is the real thing.

You want to tell things that happened to you so you need to know how to accurately tell your stories, right? When you’re narrating in the past, it’s a bit like coming to a crossroads, isn’t it? You need to choose, is it right or is it left? Narration: Preterit vs. Imperfect. This is your dilemma.

What if I told you that you don’t always have to choose right or left? Let’s see when you find same story, and two Spanish past tenses are possible. If you choose right, the sense of your story is slightly different than if you choose left. The reality of the story I chose as an example is the same. The sense is not.

As you are narrating something, different contexts appear: actions that happened only once, descriptions, actions that used to happen, actions that happened simultaneously, actions that were in progress when something else interrupted them, … etc.
In this video we are going to focus on giving descriptions in the past, and how to talk about habits.

We will see when it is possible to give descriptions in the Preterite Indefinite -also called Preterite- and in the Preterite Imperfect and why. Is there a difference? And when it is possible to talk about repeated actions or habits with the two types of past tenses? And is there also a difference?