Comer 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.

This lesson provides the conjugation of the regular verb 'comer' (to eat) in both the preterite and imperfect tenses, as well as a fun activity to help you practice forming sentences.

Both Tenses Are the Past

Before we begin to conjugate, it is necessary to discuss the difference between the preterite and imperfect tenses. They are both past tenses; however, the preterite is an action you did and completed within a specific time. The imperfect is a continued action you did in the past within an undetermined time. Given the continued aspect of an action in the imperfect tense, it is the same as referring to something you used to do.

For example, if you speak about the action of eating yesterday, you can say something like 'I ate chocolate cookies yesterday.' This is the preterite tense. But, if you are remembering the same action from childhood, you can say 'I used to eat lots of chocolate cookies when I was a kid.' This is the imperfect tense. Usually, both tenses are accompanied by some specific adverbs.

Let's learn the conjugation in both tenses, along with some common adverbs and/or expressions that accompany each tense. Before conjugation, drop the ending er and add the following endings to the root com.

The Preterite of Comer (pronounced: koh-mehr)

  • yo comí (I ate)
  • tú comiste (you -informal singular- ate)
  • usted comió (you -formal singular- ate)
  • él comió (he ate)
  • ella comió (she ate)
  • nosotros comimos (we -masculine- ate)
  • nosotras comimos (we -feminine- ate)
  • vosotros comísteis (you -informal masculine plural- ate)
  • vosotras comísteis (you -informal feminine plural- ate)
  • ustedes comieron (you -formal plural- ate)
  • ellos comieron (they -masculine- ate)
  • ellas comieron (they -feminine- ate)

Common adverbs that accompany the preterite are:

  • ayer (yesterday, pronounced: ah-yehr)
  • anoche (last night, pronounced: ah-noh-cheh)
  • esta mañana (this morning, pronounced: ehs-tah mah-nya-nah)
  • el mes pasado (last month, pronounced: el mehs pah-sah-doh)
  • el fin de semana pasado (last weekend, pronounced: el feen de seh-mah-nah pah-sah-doh)
  • el año pasado (last year, pronounced: el ah-nyo- pah-sah-doh)

The Imperfect of Comer

  • yo comía (I used to eat)
  • tú comías (you -informal singular- used to eat)
  • usted comía (you -formal singular- used to eat)
  • él comía (he used to eat)
  • ella comía (she used to eat)
  • nosotros comíamos (we -masculine- used to eat)
  • nosotras comíamos (we -feminine- used to eat)
  • vosotros comíais (you -informal masculine plural- used to eat)
  • vosotras comíais (you -informal feminine plural- used to eat)
  • ustedes comían (you -formal plural- used to eat)
  • ellos comían (they -masculine- used to eat)
  • ellas comían (they -feminine- used to eat)

Common adverbs and expressions that accompany the imperfect are are:

  • a veces (sometimes, pronounced: ah-veh-sehs)
  • a menudo (often, pronounced: ah meh-noo-doh)
  • cada día (each day, pronounced: kah-dah dee-ah). You can also say each month, each year, etc. by adding the respective word after cada.
  • en esa época (at that time, pronounced: ehn eh-ssa- eh-poh-kah)
  • cuando yo era niño (when I was a child, pronounced: koo-ahn-doh yo eh-rah nee-nyo). Note that the female word for child is niña. You can also say, instead of child, the word estudiante (student, pronounced: ehs-too-dee-ahn-teh) to refer to your school past time. Similarly, you could say adolescente (teenager, pronounced: ah-doh-less-ehn-teh) if you wish to refer to your teenage years.

Practicing the Preterite and the Imperfect of Comer

Once you have learned the conjugations for each tense along with the adverbs and expressions that are used with each tense, this exercise will help you practice.

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