Introduction of the diference between the Preterite and Imperfect
Understanding the use of the imperfect and the indefinite (pretérito indefinido) requires a learning process that does not last a day, a week or two. It takes time. I have advanced students, non-natives, who continue to make mistakes with respect to this issue. The best way to learn the process is writing, reading and listening in Spanish. The progress of the students that I have seen on this subject has been with spending time writing, reading, listening and speaking in Spanish, in short, with practice. In the following paragraphs we will see why it is important that you, “the students”, learn practicing, however we will see guides that will help you decide whether to use the imperfect or the preterit indefinite.
It is important to learn this subject, in practice, because according to experts that study the best methods of teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language there are examples that can only be understood by our knowledge of the world, or the lexical-syntactic aspect (with the expressions listening, reading and practice), which explains the following verbal behavior:
Source (fuente) in page 29 HERE
“Cuando estuve en Argentina, vi un show de tango”
“Cuando estaba en la ducha, vi mi reloj”
There is still no explanation from the experts in teaching Spanish as a foreign language on why I cannot say ” Cuando estaba en la ducha, vi mi reloj ” and why I can say ” Cuando estuve en Argentina, vi un show de tango ” . Don’t panic!! there are still guides that explains the majority of the cases.
Or there are cases that come into play here our knowledge of the world or, in other words, the lexical aspect of verbs and vocabulary knowledge.
¿Por qué llegaste tarde al trabajo? (Why did you arrive late to work?)
“Porque mi reloj no funcionaba” (Because my clock didn’t work)
“Porque mi despertador no funcionó” (Because my alarm clock didn’t work)
In this case you can’t use as an excuse that your clock did not work because then it means that now works and is not going to be an excuse to your boss. But if you say my alarm clock (despertador) did not work, it is correct as an excuse because it means that it didn’t ring, it did not work. Don’t worry if you do not understand this now, we will see these later. The point I want to make here is that that you have to know the meaning of the word “reloj” (clock), and “Despertador” (alarm clock) and the verb sonar (to ring).