Resources and exercises

The Preterite in Spanish Grammar

Grammar notes on the preterite with irregular verbs

We use the preterite to talk about past events and facts that happened at a specific point in the time. In order to form the preterite we need to remember certain rules. We previously looked at regular verbs in the preterite; . Regular verbs have three different endings in the infinitive form, so by applying this rule you can conjugate them all. Then we have the irregular verbs. The changes in these verbs not always follow a clear pattern and so you will need to memorize many of them.

Irregular Verbs in the Preterite - Verbos Irregulares

Many of the verbs in the preterite that are irregular have the same pattern. They change the stem of the verb into a different stem, and then all of them add the same set of endings. These endings are different to the ones regular preterite verbs share.

Here you have some examples and a list of irregular verbs with their corresponding stems:

Example: TENER (to have)

 Preterite StemPreterite EndingResult
yoTUVetuve
TUVistetuviste
Ud., él, ellaTUVuvotuvo
nosotros(as)TUVimostuvimos
vosotros(as)TUVisteistuvisteis
Uds., ellos, ellasTUVierontuvieron

Here you have a list of irregular verbs and their stems in the preterite. To form the irregular verb, add the endings above to the preterite stems. E.g.: TUV + E = tuve

Note: The verbs whose stem in the preterite end in “j” (e.g.: Conducir = Conduj) add the ending “eron” instead of “ieron” in the 3 rd person plural. (Eg: Ellos condujeron por la noche).

Irregular VerbPreterite Stem
andaranduv
venirvin
estarestuv
poderpud
ponerpus
sabersup
tenertuv
hacerhic (exception: Él/Ella/Usted = hizo)
venirvin
quererquis
decirdij
traertraj
conducirconduj
producirproduj
traducirtraduj
detenerdetuv
retenerretuv
contenercontuv
convenirconvin
prevenirprevin
componercompus
descomponerdescompus
proponerpropus
disponerdispus
predecirpredij
contradecircontradij
deshacerdeshic
rehacerrehic

Other irregular verbs that follow a different pattern are: SER, IR, DAR and HABER

 SERIRDAR
yofuifuidi
fuistefuistediste
É él/ella/Ustedfuefuedio
nosotrosfuimosfuimosdimos
vosotros fuisteis fuisteis disteis
ellos, ellas, Uds. fueron fueron dieron

Notes & Exercises on the Spanish Preterite

Grammar Exercises - Preterite

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