Sometimes students have problems with the Spanish verbs SER and ESTAR, and when they are starting to understand the concept, another problem arrives: SER and ESTAR in the Past tense. This is because in the paste tense we have to choose not only if we should use Ser or Estar, but also if we should use Imperfect Tense or Preterit Tense.

In this lesson we are going to see some tricks on how to use: era, fue, estaba or estuvo.

ERA is the verb Ser in the Imperfect Tense, for this reason we can use it in a description.

For example, in part of a context:

Era un día lindo y había sol, por eso decidimos salir a pasear. (It was a beautiful day and there was sun, so we decided to go for a walk.)

Julio era camarero cuando lo conocí. (July was a bartender when I met him.)

La escuela a donde asistía cuando era pequeño era muy grande. (The school where I attended when I was small was very large.)

FUE is the verb Ser in Preterit Tense (remember it has the same conjugation as IR in this tense, and could be confused with Ir), so, when we are using this verb we are speaking about something specific and close.

Kennedy fue un presidente de Estados Unidos. (Kennedy was a U.S. president.)

Ayer fue un lindo día. (Yesterday was a nice day.)

In this case the phrase is closed, it is not the context for something more.

ESTABA is the verb Estar in the Imperfect Tense. So, we use it for descriptions or Imperfect Continues.

Mi escuela estaba cerca del ro. (My school was near the river.)

Ayer estaba muy cansada, por eso no salí. (Yesterday I was very tired, so did not go out.)

Antes la casa de mis tíos estaba muy cerca de la mía. (Before the house of my uncle was very close to mine.)

Estaba tomando sol, cuando apareció una nube. (I was sunbathing when a cloud appeared.)

Estabas durmiendo cuando llegué, no quise despertarte. (You were sleeping when I arrived, I did not want to wake you up.)

ESTUVO is the Preterit Tense, we use it to speak about something specific, close, or in the “Preterit Tense Continues” to express more emphasis in the action.

La fiesta estuvo divertida. (The party was fun.)

Estuve muy triste toda la semana. (I was very sad all week.)

Ayer estuvo lloviendo todo el día. (Yesterday it rained all day.)

El fin de semana estuve limpiando mi casa. (On the weekend I was cleaning my house.)

via Learning Spanish Reviews Blog » Spanish’s Verbs Ser And Estar In The Past Tense.

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