There are enough irregular verbs in the Simple Past Tense to keep us going for a good long while, but it doesn’t make sense to go through all of them.  That is what you have that big verb book for – and you thought it was to prop up your sideboard! However, a few more verbs would be useful.  So far, we have tackled dar (to give) and hacer (to do/to make) which allows us to ask a key question: “¿Qué hiciste ayer?”  “What did you do yesterday?” 

Absolutely basic is the past tense form of the verb “ir” – to go.   Believe it or not in some tenses this verb manages to behave itself, but in the Past Simple it simply runs riot.  There’s really no excuse at all! The only redeeming feature being that it is used so commonly some of it should stick eventually. 

Before we go any further, here it is:

fui fuimos

fuiste fuisteis

fue fueron

All of these words can be translated by ‘went’ (which incidentally is a very strange word in English ‘to have’ as the past tense of ‘to go’). Here are some examples, just to make sure you’re with it:

Fui a la tienda.I went to the shop.

Fuimos en tren.We went by train – not to the shop.

These are disconnected examples.

¿Adónde fuisteis?Where did you (plural) go?  

Notice that in this example the word meaning ‘where’ is actually ‘where to’adónde. When you hear native Spanish speakers say this, they sometimes either miss the ‘a’ out, or give it very little emphasis so that it sounds like ¿Dónde fuiste?  This is a bit like us say Where d’you go? instead of Where did you go? which we would probably assure foreigners that we always say.   

Ir is very often used in the reflexive form irse (to go away).  The difference in meaning is sometimes rather slight, with the reflexive form adding emphasis.  Me fui a casa a las doce. – I went off home at 12 o’clock.  

Now comes the other really strange thing about the past simple of ir, which is that it is identical to the past simple of ser.  “How can this be?”  I hear you ask.  Well, it’s really simple (haha) and impossible to confuse.  By way of illustration; earlier on I was listening to a song I like very much which contains these lines:

Si alguna vez fui bello y fui bueno

If I was ever beautiful and good

Si alguna vez fui sabio en amores

If I was ever wise in love

Si alguna vez fui un ave de paso, lo olvidé pa’ anidar en tus brazos

If I was ever a bird passing over, I forgot this to nest in your arms.

Now you can see the sort of stuff I listen to while I’m working, but the point is that you would never mistake the word fui here for went. It has to mean was from the verb ser.  We could elaborate on this more, but time is up for this month.

The song, incidentally, is Lucía by one of my idols Joan Manuel Serrat.

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’.