Monday, November 23, 2009


In all of my past Spanish classes (middle, hs, and college), a unit is always spent on usage of the preterit and imperfect tenses. Briefly, the main difference between these two past tenses is that the preterit is for a specific action completed in the past (On Monday I called Luke), while the imperfect is used more for habitual or description type things (Every Monday last summer I called Luke).

Today in my syntax class, when somehow talk of the preterit came up, our professor told us that we've all been taught wrong. Pretérito simply means "past", and there are 5 preterit tenses:
  1. Pretérito Imperfecto: estaba
  2. Pretérito Indefinido: estuvo
  3. Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto: ha estado
  4. Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto: había estado
  5. Pretérito Anterior: hube estado
So.. #1 is what I'm used to just calling 'the imperfect', and #2 is what we're all used to calling "the preterit". #3 I'd been associating with present, since haber is conjugataed in the present indicative to form that tense. But it makes sense that it's grouped with the past, because if you have done something, that's past, no? "Pluscuamperfecto" is familiar to me, while #5's "anterior" is a name I have never heard. So I guess I'll try to familiarize myself with these tense names in the next few weeks...

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