Conjugating Regular -AR Verbs in the Preterite in Spanish

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  • 0:03 Preterit Tense of…
  • 5:07 Stem Changing - Ar Verbs
  • 6:53 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.

In this lesson we will learn how to conjugate regular -AR verbs in preterit to talk about actions that are seen by the speaker as completed. Also, we will see some common expressions that are used in Spanish to talk about actions in the past.

Preterit Tens of Regular -AR Verbs

The Spanish language has lots of conjugations that English does not have. Most of the tenses are the same, but the conjugation of verbs changes according to the person that is performing the action - the subject.

In English, the only conjugation that is a little different is the present of verbs in the third person singular: he/she/it, as in I eat, you eat he/she/it eats, etc.; or present perfect - he/she/it has eaten.

To eat I eat You eat He eats We eat You (pl.) eat They eat


The preterit in Spanish describes actions, situations, events that are seen by the speaker as completed and regularly have a specific time frame, beginning or end, or talks about a chain of events in the past.

There are certain expressions that help us talk about the past, such as ayer (yesterday), el año pasado (last year), hace 3 días (three days ago).

To form the verbs that are regular we get rid of the -AR part and add the endings '-é', '-aste', '-ó', -'amos', '-asteis' and '-aron'. The yo and él/ella/usted forms in the preterit tense have accents marks.




Nosotros -amos

Vosotros -asteis

Ustedes -aron

Ellos -aron

Let's see some examples: Yo estudié (I studied) As you can see, we used the regular verb estudiar, we took out the -AR part, and we use the stem 'estudi' + 'é' for the yo form. Yo estudié. These are some -AR verbs conjugated with other subjects:

Hablar Bailar Cantar
Yo hablé Él bailó Vosotros cantasteis
Tú hablaste Nosotros bailamos Ustedes/ellos cantaron

If you hadn't noticed, the nosotros form of the -AR verbs in the preterit is the same as the simple present: Nosotros hablamos. So, how do we know what we're talking about?! We will need to pay close attention to the context. For instance:

  • Nosotros hablamos sobre fútbol todos los días.
  • Nosotros hablamos de fútbol la semana pasada.

The first one talks about a habitual situation in the present: We talk about soccer every day.

The second one talks about something that happened last week: We talked about soccer last week.

Let's practice! Let's look at the pictures and complete the sentence before I do:

Yo usé (usar) la aspiradora ayer. (I used the vacuum yesterday.)

enseñaste (enseñar) la lección hace tres semanas. (You taught the lesson three weeks ago.)

Él nadó (nadar) en la piscina la semana pasada. (He swam in the pool last week.)

Nosotros montamos (montar) a caballo el año pasado. (We rode horses last year.)

Ustedes estudiaron (estudiar) mucho para el examen de química. (You (pl.) studied a lot for the chemistry test.)

Vosotros pasasteis (pasar) dos semanas en Argentina. (You (pl.) spent two weeks in Argentina.)

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