Spanish Verbs

The Imperfect Tense


There are 2 sets of conjugations for regular verbs in the imperfect tense.

This tense is formed by adding the endings to the stem of the verb.

Here are the endings for regular verbs that end in -ar.

  singular plural
first person aba ábamos
second person abas abais
third person aba aban

tú hablabas
él/ella/usted hablaba
nosotros hablábamos
vosotros hablabais
ellos/ellas/ustedes hablaban

Here are the endings for regular verbs that end in -er or -ir.

  singular plural
first person ía íamos
second person ías íais
third person ía ían

yo bebía
él/ella/usted bebía
nosotros bebíamos
vosotros bebíais
ellos/ellas/ustedes bebían


In general, the imperfect tense in Spanish will correspond with these English equivalents:

yo hablaba = I was speaking, I used to speak

The imperfect tense is used for past tense actions where there is not a specified completion. This includes habitual/continuous actions in the past. Also note that the imperfect is used for descriptions in the past.

Vivía en México.  I used to live in Mexico.
La casa era verde.  The house was green.


There are several common phrases that indicate that the imperfect tense should be used. It is helpful to remember these types of phrases. Here are some common ones:

every day
every year
a veces; de vez en cuando
a menudo; frecuentemente
cada día
cada año