Spanish Grammar: The Preterite Past Tense – Basics

Spanish Grammar: The Preterite Past Tense - Basics

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Spanish Grammar: The Preterite Past Tense – Basics
la gramática española: el pretérito pasado – los básicos

  • Express singular or completed actions.
  • Discuss what happened in the past.


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When speaking about the past in English, you choose which past tense to use depending on the context and the meaning you wish to convey. In Spanish sentences, you chose which past tense you use depending on the meaning you wish to convey.

The Preterite Past Tense:

1. Completed actions in the past:

Ayer, yo leí un libro.
Yesterday, I read a book.

2. Series of completed events or actions:

La semana pasada yo fui a Florida, nadé en la playa, y dormí mucho.
Last week I went to Florida, swam at the beach, and slept a lot.

3. Key words associated with time (ayer, anteayer, anoche, una vez, de repente…)

Anoche bailé con mi amiga.
Last night I danced with my friend (fem.).


¿Qué pasó?
What happened?

¿Dónde caminaron ayer?
Where did you all walk yesterday?

¿Quién cantó en la iglesia?
Who sang at church?

¿Cómo lo cocinó él?
How did he cook it?

¿Cuándo enseñó ella la lección?
When did she teach the lesson?

¿Por qué limpiaron toda la casa?
Why did they clean the entire house?

¿Cuántas personas miraron la película?
How many people saw the movie?

¿Trabajó usted la semana pasada?
Did you work last week?


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