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Beber Conjugation: Preterite & Imperfect

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

This lesson covers the Spanish verb beber, which means 'to drink.' Learn how to use it to talk about what you drank or what you used to drink in the past with the preterite and the imperfect tenses.

What Did You Drink Yesterday?

Did you drink coffee or any soft drinks yesterday? When was the last time you drank champagne? What did you use to drink when you were a child? To answer these questions in Spanish, you need to know how to use the verb beber (pronounced: beh-BEHR), which means 'to drink.'

Let's study its conjugation in the past and learn the differences between the preterite and the imperfect by listening to conversations between Cristina and Bea.

Beber (to drink)
beber

Preterite of Beber

We use the preterite to talk about finished actions in the past that happened once or momentarily. Use this tense to say what you drank yesterday, last week, or at any point in the past.

Beber is a regular verb, so its conjugation is fairly simple. We always use its stem beb-, to which we add the endings below.

VERB: beber (beh-BEHR) - to drink

Subject
Pronouns
Preterite
Conjugation
Pronunciation Translation
yo bebí (beh-BEE) I drank
bebiste (beh-BEES-teh) you drank
él/ella
usted
beb (beh-BYOH) he/she drank
you (formal) drank
nosotros
nosotras
bebimos (beh-BEE-mohs) we drank
vosotros
vosotras
bebisteis (beh-BEES-tays) you all drank
ellos/ellas
ustedes
bebieron (beh-BYEH-rohn) they drank
you all drank

Note: Only Spaniards use the form vosotros/as when addressing a group of people in an informal situation. In the rest of Spanish-speaking countries, everyone uses the form ustedes when addressing a group in any setting.

Example Conversation

Cristina and Bea talk during their break at the office.

Cristina: Necesito un café. (I need a coffee.) ¿Quieres uno? (Would you like one?)

Bea: No, gracias. Bebí mucho café esta mañana. (No, thanks. I drank a lot of coffee this morning.) ¿Tú no bebiste café? (Didn't you drink any coffee?)

Cristina: No. Laura y yo bebimos jugo. (No. Laura and I drank juice.) Laura bebió jugo de piña y yo bebí jugo de mango. (Laura drank pineapple juice and I drank mango juice.)

Bea: ¿Dónde lo bebieron? (Where did you (both) drink it?)

Cristina: Los venden en el mercado de la plaza. (They are sold at the market in the square.) ¡Tienes que probarlos! (You have to try them!)

Translation: I drank coffee this morning.
drink

Imperfect of Beber

The imperfect is also a past tense, but its use is different from the preterite. We use the imperfect to talk about actions that had duration or were repeated in the past. For example, you can use it to describe past routines or to talk about your childhood.

Again, since beber is regular, its conjugation is a piece of cake! Take a look at the imperfect endings below:

VERB: beber (beh-BEHR) - to drink

Subject
Pronouns
Imperfect
Conjugation
Pronunciation Translation
yo bebía (beh-BEE-ah) I used to drink
bebías (beh-BEE-ahs) you used to drink
él/ella
usted
bebía (beh-BEE-ah) he/she used to drink
you (formal) used to drink
nosotros
nosotras
bebíamos (beh-BEE-ah-mohs) we used to drink
vosotros
vosotras
bebíais (beh-BEE-iys) you all used to drink
ellos/ellas
ustedes
bebían (beh-BEE-ahn) they used to drink
you all used to drink

Example Conversation

Cristina and Bea go together to the supermarket after work. They are doing their shopping when they see a drink that catches their eye:


Translation: When I was a child I used to drink Nesquik.
nesquik

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