Our next Irregular Past Simple Verb is decir, chosen like the others we have looked at because of its frequent use.
Decir as you no doubt know means to say or to tell and of course we are always using it in sentences like:
What did he say?
I said to him and then he said to me.
They told me to ….
We were told … and so on.
Telling people what was told to us must be part of the human condition and is just as necessary in Spanish as it is in English.
Here is how the verb looks in the past simple:
One thing that is particularly odd about these Irregular Verbs is in the placing of the emphasis in the third person singular. You will remember our regular verbs in this form look like this:
miró, bebió, vivió
In other words they, all have a beat on the final ‘o’ sound. With the Irregular Verbs this is not the case, as the beat here goes on the ‘di’ syllable (DI-jo).
What did he say? – ¿Qué dijo?
He said – Dijo …
He told me …. – Me dijo …..
These must be followed by what he told me, using the link word que this time meaning that. For example:
He told me that he was ill. – Me dijo que estaba enfermo.
In the English language we can say He told me on its own, as in: Did he say that he was ill? Yes, he told me. However, to say the same in Spanish we cannot simply use Me dijo on its own. We have to include the word lo (it) as in Me lo dijo. (He told me it). This applies to all combinations, for example:
¿Se lo dijiste? – Did you tell him/her/them?
Nos lo dijeron. – They told us.
Finally, another of our very common Irregular Past Tenses – the verb estar (to be – where or how). This is what it looks like:
Here is a typical exchange in which this verb is used, along with the past tense of ir; talking about places:
¿Has estado alguna vez en Madrid? – Sí, estuve allí el año pasado.
¿Sí? ¿Te gustó? – Sí, mucho. Estuvimos en el Escorial también, pasamos allí un día entero. Luego, al día siguiente fuimos a Segovia y estuvimos allí dos días.
¿Fuisteis a Toledo también? – Sí, estuvimos allí el último día, antes de regresar a casa.
We can also use estar with reference to someone’s ‘state’ or how they are, at a particular moment:
¡Qué dijo tu padre cuando se enteró? ¿Tú que crees? Estuvo enfadadísimo! – What did your father say when he found out? What do you think? He was absolutely furious!
You may remember having conversations like that, a few years ago!
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’.