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Caerse Conjugation: Preterite & Imperfect

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

The verb ''caerse'' means 'to fall'. Its conjugation in the preterite and the imperfect tenses are clearly differentiated in this lesson along with examples you can use in daily conversation.

A Person's Fall

The verb caerse (kah-EHR-seh) means 'to fall' and we use it to refer to a person's fall. Keep in mind that Spanish speakers often use caerse to refer to things that fall, but this is wrong from a grammatical point of view.

Caerse ends in se, which indicates it as a reflexive verb. A reflexive verb expresses an action that remains with the subject who does it. We usually don't fall on purpose, but even if we do, only the person who actually falls is entirely affected by this fact.

Like with other verbs, we might need to use it in Spanish in the preterite tense (i.e. 'I fell yesterday.') or in the imperfect tense (i.e. 'I used to fall a lot as a child.'). Let's begin.

Preterite Tense

We use the preterite tense to say that someone 'fell' yesterday, this morning, last night, a year ago, etc. In any case, it is a fall that happened once at a specific point. The following table includes a reflexive pronoun before the verb because, as you know, caerse is a reflexive verb.

Reflexive Pronoun and Preterite Tense Pronunciation Translation
me caí meh kah-EE I fell
te caíste teh kah-EES-teh You (singular, informal) fell
(ella, él, usted) se cayó seh kah-YOH he, she, and you (singular, formal) fell
nos caímos nohs kah-EE-mohs We fell
os caísteis ohs kah-EES-tehees You (plural, informal) fell
(ellas, ellos, ustedes) se cayeron seh kah-YEH-rohn they (masculine and feminine) and you (plural, formal) fell

As you can see, the table does not include the subject pronouns yo (I), (you, sing/inf),nosotros (we), or vosotros (you, plural/inf). The reason is that the reflexive pronoun already tells who the person is. If you want, you can say yo me caí (I fell) for emphasis, but otherwise, just say me caí, and people will know you are talking about yourself. The same goes for the other pronouns that are not in the table.

Now, we can apply the table to practical examples. Here are the examples:

  • Me caí anoche. (I fell last night)
  • ¿Dónde te caíste? (Where did you fall?)
  • Mi hermana se cayó ayer. (My sister fell yesterday)
  • Mis amigos y yo nos caímos en la nieve. (My friends and I fell on the snow)
  • Mis hermanos se cayeron en la pista de patinaje. (My brothers fell at the ice rink)

Juan fell from the horse.
guyfalls

Imperfect of Caerse and Examples

The imperfect tense is used to say that someone 'used to fall'. Thus, it is a repetitive fall that kept happening during a fairly prolonged period of time.

Reflexive Pronoun and Imperfect Tense Pronunciation Translation
me caía meh kah-EE-ah I used to fall
te caías teh kah-EE-ahs You (singular, informal) used to fall
(ella, él, usted) se caía seh kah-EE-ah he, she, and you (singular, formal) used to fall
os caíais ohs kah-EE-ahees You (plural, informal) used to fall
(ellas, ellos, ustedes) se caían seh kah-EE-ahn they (masculine and feminine) and you (plural, formal) used to fall

You may wonder who can say they 'used to fall' a lot. Well, age, health conditions, working conditions, etc. can lead to repetitive falls. Let's clarify through examples:

  • Siempre me caía en el restaurante porque el piso era muy resbaloso. (I always used to fall at the restaurant because the floor was very slippery)
  • Cuando mi hermano era niño, se caía con frecuencia porque era muy activo. (When my brother was a child, he used to fall frequently because he was very active)
  • Mis padres se caían mucho durante sus últimos años de vida. (My parents used to fall a lot during their last years of life)

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