In the simplest sense, we can think of there being three varieties of tenses: past, present and future. Unfortunately for anyone learning most languages, including English and Spanish, it is seldom that simple. What we call the present tense, for example, can be used in some cases in both languages to talk about the past or the future. And in Spanish, there is a clear distinction between the preterite and imperfect tenses, which are both types of past tenses.
Lessons in verb tenses
Verb conjugationIn Spanish, verb tenses are formed by changing the endings of verbs, a process known as conjugation. Following lessons explain the conjugations used:
- Present tense conjugation
- Imperfect conjugation
- Preterite conjugation
- Future conjugation
- Conditional conjugation
Further studyIf you understand all the above lessons, you'll have a strong basic understanding of how the tenses are used in Spanish. The following lessons for further study can help you understand the tenses in greater detail:
- It is possible to describe events that will happen in the future without using the future tense.
- The differences in the past tenses of ser and estar can be especially subtle.
- Sometimes, the word used to translate a Spanish verb can vary depending on the tense used.
- While the English auxiliary verb "would" is often an indication that the conditional tense is being used, such isn't always the case.
- Although the conditional tense is a common one, there are also types of conditional sentences that use other forms of verbs.
- By using estar as an auxiliary verb in the various tenses, it is possible to form progressive verbs that can be used in various tenses.