Past

We are learning about the past simple tense for a while.  Some people know this tense as the “past historic” and others as the “preterite”. In Spanish it is called the “pretérito indefinido”, but why we should ever need to know that I’m not sure.  When I’m in the mood I call it the “done and dusted” tense.  It’s up to you what you call it!

Let’s look at a few more verbs in this tense so that we get used to what they look like and what they mean.  For example “hablar”.  Remember that the first thing to do is find the root of the verb by removing the two-letter ending from the infinitive.

Hablé I spoke

Hablaste you spoke

Habló he / she spoke

Hablamos we spoke

Hablasteis you spoke (plu)

Hablaron they spoke

We’ll do one more which happens to illustrate two more things I want to say – jugar

Jugué I played

Jugaste You played

Jugó He / she played

Jugamos We played

Jugasteis You played (plu)

Jugaron They played

What I want to say about this is firstly – notice the spelling of the first person form.   This is another example of a very common phenomenon in Spanish, where the spelling of a word changes to reflect a regular sound.  The “u” here is not pronounced as it is there to preserve the hard “g” sound before the letter “e”.  The other thing to notice is that even though this verb is root-changing in the present tense, it is not so in the past tense.  In fact none of those root-changing rules which took us so long to get to grips with have any relevance at all in the past tense, they were all for the present tense only.  I know – I agree.

Well, it’s not very practical to write out more and more verbs in this way but you can definitely have a go at some for yourselves.  Here is a small selection of verbs which do exactly the same as the one above in the past tense – ayudar, buscar, cambiar, cocinar, comprar, escuchar, firmar, limpiar, pagar, pensar, soñar, trabajar, viajar.   Two of these verbs have to make spelling changes in the first person singular to reflect their regular sound.  See if you can work them out without looking them up in a grammar book.  Have fun!

Jane Cronin’s ‘Step by Step Spanish’ articles are available as e-books at www. janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s ‘Step by Step’ Internet Spanish Course’.