As we continue with our look at the Past Continuous or Imperfect Tense, we only have one piece of business left to do as far as putting it together goes and that is to look at the only three irregular verbs. Yes, I did say three because that’s how few there are. In fact, I think I am correct in saying that this tense is the one with the fewest irregular verbs in the whole Spanish language.
Our three verbs are Ser, Ir and Ver, so let’s look at Ser first.
When would we use this verb in this way?
First of all to give a description of a person or a scene:
El hombre era alto.
The man was tall.
Las casas eran muy pequeñas.
The houses were very small
¿Eras un buen estudiante?
Were you a good student?
Another common use of Ser is when describing a number of people as in the phrase:
Éramos diez personas en la clase.
There were ten of us in the class.
In addition, we use this form of Ser to talk about someone’s job in the past:
Yo era contable y mi marido era electricista.
I was an accountant and my husband was an electrician.
Our second irregular verb is Ir and it goes like this:
Here are some example sentences. Notice that the actual words of the translations can vary, but the sense is the same:
Yo iba a clase todos los días.
I used to go (went) to class every day.
El autobus iba a Barcelona los sábados.
The bus used to go (went) to Barcelona on Saturdays.
We can also use this form as a past tense version of voy a etc. (I’m going to) to express intention:
Voy a hablar con mi marido.
I’m going to talk to my husband.
Iba a hablar con mi marido.
I was going to talk to my husband.
This last type of statement contains the implication that in the end I didn’t do whatever it was (I was going to talk to my husband … but in the end I didn’t). Another example of this is when someone you were going to phone, phones you first and you say:
Te iba a llamar.
I was going to phone you.
Finally we have the verb Ver which is hardly irregular at all really. If it were entirely regular it would be vía, vías, vía (building the endings onto the root ‘v’), but for some reason we leave the extra ‘e’ in, which gives us:
That is as irregular as this Past Tense gets, which I think is pretty good. Here’s a sentence, (admittedly not a terribly interesting one), which uses all three verbs.
Cuando yo era niña, no veía mucha tele, sino iba a jugar en el parque con mis amigas.