The preterite tense (el pretérito indefinido) is used for actions that have been completed, where the beginning and end are clearly defined. For example, “anoche comí una pizza.”
We use the imperfect tense (el pretérito imperfecto) for actions in the past where the end point is not specified and it is unclear if the action has been completed or not. This can include continual, habitual actions and also descriptions. For example, “cuando era pequeño, siempre iba a la playa con mi familia. “
The present perfect tense (el pretérito perfecto) is used to talk about past actions that are still connected to the present or might still be happening. It is formed using the auxiliary verb “haber” in the present tense + the past participle of the action verb. For example, “esta tarde he almorzado con mi amiga.”
The pluperfect tense (el pretérito pluscuamperfecto) is used when talking about an action that took place before another action happened. It is formed using the auxiliary verb “haber” in the imperfect past tense + the past participle of the action verb. For example, “cuando llegué al cine, la película ya había empezado.”
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