Spanish Practice Activities: Reading News Articles with the Preterite

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  • 0:02 Reading News Articles
  • 1:43 El Tornado En Oklahoma
  • 3:19 Un Milagro En China
  • 4:55 Short Dialogue About the Past
  • 8:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pablo Serna

Pablo has taught college Spanish at the University of Missouri and Central Methodist University, and has a master's degree in Spanish literature.

We will apply the preterite tense in different situations describing events in the past that are completed actions, such as news articles and descriptions of past events. We will read some texts and answer some questions using the preterite.

Spanish Practice Activities: Reading News Articles with the Preterite

?Qué sucedió? ?Cómo ocurrió? ?Cómo pasó?

These questions are often heard when we are discussing something that happened already. 'What happened? How did it occur? How did it happen?'

The preterite helps us talk about past events, actions, and situations. Most of the time, it refers to finished actions or a chain of events in the past. To form the preterite tense for regular verbs, we have these endings:

Sujeto\Verbo cantar comer vivir
Yo cant-é com-í viv-í
cant-aste com-iste viv-iste
Él/ella/usted cant-ó com-ió viv-ió
Nosotros cant-amos com-imos viv-imos
Vosotros cant-asteis com-isteis viv-isteis
Ustedes cant-aron com-ieron viv-ieron
Ellos cant-aron com-ieron viv-ieron

Also, there are time expressions that provide a time frame and tell us when the action happened like: 'Hace dos días' (two days ago), 'ayer' (yesterday), 'el año pasado' (last year), etc.

In this lesson we will practice some preterite in Spanish through some examples of news articles and a conversation between two people.

Let's start!

El Tornado en Oklahoma

El año pasado, el día 20 de mayo, un tornado categoría EF-5 destruyó casas y edificios. El tornado se formó rápidamente y devastó (devastated) una gran región de Oklahoma City. El tornado recorrió muchos kilómetros, trajo vientos extremos de hasta 470 KM/h y derrumbó (tore down) todo a su paso como piezas de Lego. Este tornado causó la muerte de al menos 24 personas. Las consecuencias de la tormenta provocaron desolación y tristeza (sadness) en la población de los Estados Unidos.

?Qué entendiste?

We are using an expression that gives us a time frame: Last year, and a specific date, May 20th. It was a one-time occurrence, so it is a finished action. That is why we use preterite. The tornado was formed (se formó) quickly and devastated (devastó) a big region. Then we see a chain of actions: recorrió - covered/traveled through lots of kilometers, trajo - brought extreme winds, and derrumbó - tore down everything on its path like Lego pieces. Then we have some more preterite: causó - caused and provocaron - provoked.

Let's try another article!

Un Milagro en China

En las noticias internacionales, un vendedor de la calle en China atrapó (caught) un bebé de un año que cayó desde el segundo piso (2nd floor) de un edificio. El hombre vio que el niño salió por la ventana de su apartamento. Corrió por la calle, lo esperó y, cuando el niño cayó, el hombre lo agarró (grabbed) en el aire. Una cámara grabó (recorded) todo el evento. Las personas felicitaron al héroe que rescató a este pequeño niño. ¡Esto que pasó es un milagro!

Ahora responde estas preguntas (now answer these questions):

1. ?Qué ocurrió?

  • Un hombre en China atrapó a un bebé que cayó de un edificio.

2. ?Quién cayó del edificio?

  • Un bebé de un año cayó del edificio.

3. ?Quién agarró al bebé?

  • Un vendedor de la calle (street vendor) agarró al bebé.'

¡Muy bien!

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