Jugar Past Tense Conjugation: Preterite & Imperfect

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  • 0:04 The Verb Jugar
  • 1:15 Preterite of Jugar
  • 2:06 Example Conversation
  • 3:10 Imperfect of Jugar
  • 4:04 Example Conversation
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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 'jugar', which means 'to play' (a sport or game). We will study two of its past tense conjugations so that you will be able to talk about games and sports you played or used to play in the past.

The Verb Jugar

Did you play any sports or games during the weekend? When was the last time you played board games with your family or friends? What was your favorite game when you were a child? To talk about these topics in Spanish, you will need to learn the conjugation of jugar, which means 'to play.'

We use jugar with the meaning of 'playing a sport or game' exclusively. So don't use it with the meaning of playing an instrument, because there's another verb for this in Spanish (tocar).

One more note: We use the structure jugar + a + game or sport. Also, some games require the article las.

Now let's take a look at some useful vocabulary you might need when using this verb:

Spanish Translation
jugar a fútbol / futbolín / rugby /
tenis / baloncesto

to play soccer / table soccer / rugby /
tennis / basketball
jugar a las canicas to play marbles
jugar a las cartas to play cards
jugar a juegos de mesa to play board games
jugar a videojuegos to play videogames

Preterite of Jugar

We use the preterite to talk about finished actions in the past. Jugar is regular in this conjugation, except for a small change in the first person, so you will just need to take its stem (jug-) and add the preterite endings.

Note: For the first person singular (yo), we need to add a u to the stem. This is to keep the soft sound (/g/). Otherwise, g + e would sound like the English /he/.

Subject Pronouns Jugar Conjugation:
yo jugué I played
jugaste you played
él/ella/usted jugó he/she/you (formal) played
nosotros/nosotras jugamos we played
vosotros/vosotras jugasteis you all played
ellos/ellas/ustedes jugaron they/you all (formal) played

Example Conversation

Sergio and Nuria are talking about what they did last weekend.

Sergio says, El sábado jugué a fútbol con mis compañeros de clase. ('On Saturday I played soccer with my classmates'.)

¿Y tú? ('And you?') ¿Jugaste a tenis con tu hermano? ('Did you play tennis with your brother?')

Nuria answers, Sí, jugamos en la cancha cerca de casa. ('Yes, we played in the court near our house'.)

Sergio says Mi hermana también jugó a tenis el fin de semana. ('My sister also played tennis at the weekend'.) ¿Y qué hicisteis el domingo? ('And what did you do on Sunday?') ¿Jugasteis a algo? ('Did you guys play anything?')

Nuria responds Unos amigos vinieron a casa y jugamos a juegos de mesa. ('Some friends came over and we played board games'.) ¡Lo pasamos muy bien! ('It was great fun!')

Imperfect of Jugar

The imperfect is another past tense in Spanish. We use it when talking about actions or habits that used to happen at some point in the past. So if you want to describe past routines or talk about your childhood, you'll need to use the imperfect.

Again, jugar is regular in this tense, so just take the stem jug- and add the corresponding endings depending on the subject pronouns.

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