Preterite vs Imperfect
If you are a Spanish national, you know that Spanish language makes use of two simple past tenses namely Preterite and Imperfect. However, to those who are not Spanish and trying to master the language, finding which one of the two tenses to be used in a sentence, is a difficult task.
The factor that decides in favor of either of the two tenses preterite and imperfect is the characteristic of the verb being used in the sentence. This is not something that English speakers do while using a tense. Let us find out more about this aspect through examples.
Take for example a simple sentence “he was playing”. The sentence does not tell us anything about the time when he started playing or when he stopped playing. What the sentence tells us is that, at a point of time in the past, he was playing. The focus of the sentence lies in the action which is imperfect in this sentence. Thus, it comes as no surprise that, in Spanish language, such a verb is associated with imperfect tense.
Preterite is simply an action that has happened in the past and has a definite finishing time. It is used as a tense, to describe an act in the past, which is now over and not happening. It is also used where there is a specific beginning and a specific ending of an act.
What is the difference between Preterite and Imperfect?
• While both preterite and imperfect are used for past tenses, preterite is used to indicate actions that took place in the past and have been completed, so that the reader knows the specific beginning and ending.
• On the other hand, imperfect is a past tense that used for actions from the past that are not seen as completed.
• Imperfect stresses on a state of being while preterite focuses on completed actions.