Conceptual Aspect (Aspecto conceptual)

Conceptual Aspect (Aspecto conceptual)

Fuente/Source click HERE

This perspective does not cover all cases but it covers most of them.

Do this exercise before reading the explanation. Click HERE for the exercise.

The choice of indefinite and imperfect is only a matter of perspective as the “aspectual conception.” We agree that both the indefinite and the imperfect belong to the past, but the difference is in what part of the past we stand?. The indefinite  is standing on the part of the story where the action is over and the imperfect (preterite) “at this moment in history” the action was not over, I repeat, “at this moment in history.”

The basic value of the opposition imperfect / indefinite is aspectual: both are past tense (or what not current), one of them, indefinitely, it has the feature ends and the other, the imperfect, does not possess that trait. The indefinite is the target time: in addition to referring to states, processes or actions of the past (or present themselves as non-current )expresses the value of achievement, completion or termination of the act to which it refers. The imperfect conceived states, processes and actions referred to as belonging to the sphere of the past (or the non-current) without specifying whether the action or process in question been completed or not. In this regard the imperfect past tense is not over. Not that the imperfect present the facts as unfinished, although this is the normal interpretation, but that says nothing about whether they finished or not.

Let’s see some examples :

Party of Mary on December 2, 2010. Mary and  Jane are friends.


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When in the present we speak about the future, when we talk about it in the past we tell it in the preterit imperfect.

Daily Life

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Did you understand the relation? Let’s keep working on this…

In order to conclude, if we use the present simple in that moment of the past that we are talking about we use the imperfect, and if we use the future in that present of the past we use the preterit imperfect as well. Let’ see some examples:

Case 1

Today: Esta película (Continuator lll”) me  parece interesante. (In the theather) – Present simple

Past: El otro día fui a ver “Continuator III”. La película me  parecía muy interesante… Past imperfect.

Present simple_____________________________Past imperfect.

If we use the future in the present simple, when we tell in the past we have to tell it in the past imperfect:

Case 2

Today:Mañana mi avión sale a las once” – Future

Past: Al día siguiente, mi avión salía a las once.  Past imperfect.

Future _____________________Past imperfect.

Prterite Imperfect

With the present simple we determine non finished facts in the actual moment (today) and with the imperfect we determine non finished facts in a past moment. With the imperfect, since we remember those same facts, we transport that same perspective in a moment from the past, we situate our selves within a past scene and we describe what was going in “there”. We can see this correlation in the following examples:

  • (Hoy)¡Cómo come ese hombre gordo!
  • (Ayer) ¡Como comía ese hombre gordo ayer!


Indefinite Preterit (Preterito indefinido)

From this perspective, the preterit imperfect presents states, processes or actions that are completed finished and concluded. With this verbal time we determine the complete course of the process, this is why when we use it in a story/writing we inform that the process, started, developed and finished within the point of the story that we are.

  • (Hoy) “Mi novia me dejó hace una hora  😥


  • (Ayer) Ayer mi novia me dejo  😥





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