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LEARN SPANISH "PRETÉRITO IMPERFECTO" (PAST SIMPLE) (Pretérito Imperfecto - Past Simple) SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD

When we translate the tenses corresponding to the Spanish subjunctive mood into English we will do it according to the context. We always have to interpret the sentence and translate accordingly.

Before we study the pretérito imperfecto (past simple) of the subjunctive mood we need to learn some basic concepts about Spanish verbs. Spanish verbs are always either regular or irregular as it happens with English verbs. All Spanish verbs end either in "-ar", "-er" or "-ir". These are the three Spanish conjugations.

Example

Hablar (to speak), Correr (to run), Añadir (to add)

The pretérito imperfecto (past simple) of the subjunctive mood has two possible forms for each person of the verb. To form the pretérito imperfecto (past simple) of the subjunctive mood, we need to take the verb as we find it in the dictionary. Then we will remove the last two letters and we will add the appropriate ending for each person.

Example

For the verbs ending in -ar:

yo (I) -ara o -ase
tú (You) -aras o -ases
él, ella, usted (he, she, you formal) -ara o -ase
nosotros, nosotras (we) -áramos o -ásemos
vosotros, vosotras (you all) -arais o -aseis
ellos, ellas, (they) ustedes (you all formal) -aran o -asen

Example: We take the verb "hablar" (to speak). We remove the "-ar": We are left with habl- (the stem) and then we add the personal endings.

hablar hablar--
yo (I) Hablara o hablase (I spoke)
tú (you) Hablaras o hablases (you spoke)
él, ella, usted (he, she, you formal) Hablara o hablase (he, she spoke)
nosotros, nosotras (we) Habláramos o hablásemos (we spoke)
vosotros, vosotras (you all) Hablarais o hablaseis (you all spoke)
ellos, ellas, (they) ustedes (you all formal) Hablaran o hablasen (they spoke)

For verbs ending in -er:

yo (I) -iera o -iese
tú (You) -ieras o -ieses
él, ella, usted (he, she, you formal) -iera o -iese
nosotros, nosotras (we) -iéramos o -iésemos
vosotros, vosotras (you all) -ierais o -ieseis
ellos, ellas, (they) ustedes (you all formal) -ieran o -iesen

Example: We take the verb "correr" (to run). We remove the "-er": We are left with corr- (the stem) and then we add the personal endings.

correr correr--
yo (I) corriera o corriese (I ran)
tú (you) corrieras o corrieses (you ran)
él, ella, usted (he, she, you formal) corriera o corriese (he, she ran)
nosotros, nosotras (we) Corriéramos o corriésemos (we ran)
vosotros, vosotras (you all) Corrierais o corrieseis (you all ran)
ellos, ellas, (they) ustedes (you all formal) Corrieran o corriesen (they ran)

For verbs ending in -ir:

yo (I) -iera o -iese
tú (You) -ieras o -ieses
él, ella, usted (he, she, you formal) -iera o -iese
nosotros, nosotras (we) -iéramos o -iésemos
vosotros, vosotras (you all) -ierais o -ieseis
ellos, ellas, (they) ustedes (you all formal) -ieran o -iesen

Example: We take the verb "añadir" (to add). We remove the "-ir": We are left with añad- (the stem) and then we add the personal endings.

añadir añadir--
yo (I) Añadiera o añadiese (I added)
tú (you) Añadieras o añadieses (you added)
él, ella, usted (he, she, you formal) Añadiera o añadiese (he, she added)
nosotros, nosotras (we) Añadiéramos o añadiésemos (we added)
vosotros, vosotras (you all) Añadierais o añadieseis (you all added)
ellos, ellas, (they) ustedes (you all formal) Añadieran o añadiesen (they added)

The differences between the persons "tú" (you), "vosotros" (you all), "usted" (you formal) and "ustedes" (you all formal) are explained in Spanish Personal Pronouns .

Some of the irregular verbs will be conjugated exactly in the same form, adding the same sets of endings; the only difference is that they will have some spelling changes in the stem of the verb. ***Remember*** Spanish Irregular verbs can be highly irregular and the general rule is "The rules do not apply".

Example:

Leer To Read
yo leyera o leyese I read
tú leyeras o leyeses you read
el leyera o leyese he read
nosotros leyéramos o leyésemos we read
vosotros leyerais o leyeseis you all read
ellos leyeran o leyesen they read

SOME GENERAL USES

We use the pretérito imperfecto (past simple) of the subjunctive mood to express wishes or actions that could take place.

Example

Si estudiara más, seguramente aprobaría.
If she studied more, she would probably pass.

Si yo fuera tú, haría más deporte.
If I were you, I would do more sport.

Si yo viviera cerca del mar, iría todas las tardes a la playa.
If I lived by the sea, I would go to the beach every evening.

Si fuera rico, me compraría una mansión en una isla desierta.
If I were rich, I would buy a mansion on a desert island.

We can also use the pretérito imperfecto (past simple) of the subjunctive mood to express a possible action in the past. This past action might not be completed and that action might be an idea or wish.

Example

Quería que termináramos el proyecto ayer.
I wanted us to finish the project yesterday.

Me habría gustado que vinierais a la fiesta.
I would have liked that you had come to the party.