Normally, there is a lot of confusion between when you have to use Pretérito Imperfecto or Pretérito Indefinido (in some books this appears as “Pretérito Perfecto Simple”.)

The “Pretérito Indefinido” tense, is a tense that is used when we are speaking about things that happened one time in the past, Ex: “Esta mañana desayuné frutas” or when you express duration of time, Ex: “Juan trabajó en un banco por 10 años”.

On the other hand, the “Imperfecto” tense is used when you are speaking about “Habits or Routines” in the past, Ex.: “Cuando era adolescente hablaba mucho por teléfono con mis amigas.”

Also, we use “Imperfecto” to describe something in the past, Ex.: “Mi escuela era grande y tenia un jardín muy bonito”.

However, is not only for a physical description, is also for a character description: “Mi abuelo era simpático y no se enojaba por nuestras bromas”, the weather: “Era otoño y llovía un poco”, the time: “Eran las 8 cuando llegaste”, places and what people did in those places: “El almacen de mi barrio era un lugar donde la gente compraba las cosas del día, como leche o galletas”.

The “Indefinido” is always the things which allow the story to continue while the “Imperfecto” is the context, which puts color into the story.

via Learning Spanish Reviews Blog » Pretérito Imperfecto VS. Pretérito Indefinido.

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