Caer Conjugation: Preterite & Imperfect

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  • 0:00 'Caer': To Fall
  • 0:28 Conjugation of 'Caer'…
  • 2:15 Using 'Caer' in the Preterite
  • 3:05 Conjugation of 'Caer'…
  • 4:23 Using 'Caer' in the Imperfect
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashton Thompson

Ashton has taught secondary school Spanish and English, and has a master's degree in Bilingual Education.

This lesson will teach you how to tell everyone about those epic falls in Spanish, using the verb ''caer'' in the two past tenses: the preterite and the imperfect.

Caer: To Fall

Thanks to gravity, everything falls. You, the London Bridge, and apples from a tree all fall. When we tell our stories to our Spanish-speaking friends, we want to be able to tell them about those amazing falling moments.

The verb caer in Spanish means 'to fall,' and we can use it to describe things falling in the past. Let's look at two different forms of the past tense.

Conjugation of Caer in the Preterite

In Spanish, we use the preterite tense to describe events that happened one time in the past. In this case, we will use caer in the preterite tense to tell about a singular event when something or someone fell. Now let's look at the conjugations of caer for each pronoun.

Subject Pronoun caer Conjugation Translation
yo yo caí I fell
tú caíste you fell (singular)
él/ella/usted él/ella cayó he/she fell
nosotros nosotros caímos we fell
vosotros vosotros caísteis you fell (plural)
ellos/ellas/ustedes ellos/ellas cayeron they fell

There are some things to notice with these conjugations. Take into account that anything with an accent mark gets the most emphasis when you pronounce the word. That's what the accent mark is there for. Also, notice there is a spelling change when the verb is conjugated for él/ella and for ellos/ellas. The 'i' changes to a 'y.' This spelling change is there just to keep the sound we want when we pronounce the word. Lastly, keep in mind that Spanish-speakers don't always use the pronoun when they speak; the conjugations are so different from each other, that the listener will know who the subject is just based on how the verb is conjugated.

Using Caer in the Preterite

Let's use the preterite conjugation of caer to describe one-time events where something or someone fell. Normally when the preterite is used, there are certain expressions that are used with it to let us know that it only happened once.

Let's look at some examples of how we would use caer in the preterite tense.

  • Una vez, yo caí de un árbol. (One time, I fell from a tree.)
  • Cuando yo tenía seis años, mi hermana cayó por las escaleras. (When I was six, my sister fell down the stairs.)
  • El año pasado, todos los regalos cayeron al suelo. (Last year, all the presents fell on the floor.)

Remember, use the preterite tense for stories and events that took place once and ended in the past. Now let's look at the other past tense that we can use.

Conjugation of Caer in the Imperfect

The imperfect tense is used in Spanish to help describe situations that were 'continuous' in the past. These are events that happened repeatedly and don't have a definite beginning or end. With the imperfect, we'll use the verb caer to talk about falls that were repeated more than once in the past.

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