ТОП 10:

More Expressions of Existence

The following conjugations of haber are also used to express existence:

9. hubo, había / there was (were)

10. cuando haya/ whenever there is (are)

11. tiene que haber/ there has (have) to be

12. va a haber/ there is (are) going to be


· Hubo un debate entre los empleados./ There was a debate among employees.

· Cuando haya nieve iremos a esquiar./ Whenever there is snow, we'll go skiing.

· Tiene que haber refugiados en la frontera./ There have to be refugees at the border.

· Va a haber mucha gente en la fiesta./ There is going to be a lot of people at the party.


The Expression Hay que/ one (we) must or need to

Hay que is equivalent to one must (in a general sense) in English. This is an invariable expression, and no subject is required.


· Hay que ser sincero./ One must be sincere.

· Hay que tener compasión para los desafortunados./ We need to be compassionate to the unfortunate ones.

NOTE: Hayque has to be followed by an infinitive.

Subject + acabar de + infinitive.

Acabar de is equivalent to the English expression to have just done something.


· Acabo de terminar el reporte./ I have just finished the report.

· Habíamos acabado de llegar cuando vino el chofer./ We had just arrived when the driver came.

NOTE: An infinitive follows the preposition de.



The imperfect is the other past tense in Spanish. Its uses are different from those of the preterit. They are used in different contexts and emphasize the continuation of an action in the past. To form the imperfect tense, remove the infinitive endings (-ar, -er, and -ir) and add the following conjugated endings:

Pronoun Comprar/ to buy Vender/ to sell Recibir/ to receive
yo/ I compraba vendía recibía
tú/ you comprabas vendías recibías
él, ella, Ud./ he, she, you compraba vendía recibía
nosotros/ we comprábamos vendíamos recibíamos
vosotros/ you comprabais vendíais recibíais
ellos/ they compraban vendían recibían


1. The Spanish imperfect tense has several meanings in English; the Spanish imperfect is used to describe actions that occurred repeatedly or habitually in the past. To communicate the same idea in English, the phrases used to or would, past continuous, or simple past are used.

El gerentenegociabacon los vendedores. The manager used to (would) negotiate with the vendors.
The manager was negotiating(in the process of) with the vendors.***
The manager negotiated (repeatedly) with the vendors.

NOTE in the above example, the imperfect is also used to describe a past action, which is still going on in the past, or an action whose beginning and ending are NOT specified or important. ***The equivalent in English is was or were + present participle.


2. The imperfect tense is used to describe physical conditions or characteristics of people and things in the past:


· La compañíateníamuchos problemas económicos./ The company had a lot of economic problems.

· El hijo de Susana eramuy inteligente./ Susan's son was very intelligent.

3. It is also used to express ongoing emotional or mental states, desires and opinions in the past:


· Nuestra casa matriz quería fusionar nuestra sucursal con otra compañía./ Our parent company wanted to merge our branch with another company.

· Los trabajadores se sentían felices con el nuevo jefe./ The workers werehappy with their new boss.

· Nosotros creíamos que la fusión no funcionaba./ We believed that the merger was not working.

4. The imperfect is used to express time or age in the past:


· Eranlas tres de la tarde./ It was 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

· Tenía un año cuando nos mudamos a la Argentina./ I was a year-old when we moved to Argentina.

5. The imperfect is used with the conjunction mientras/ while to express 2 or more ongoing and simultaneous actions:


La empresa quería expandir el mercado mientras que el departamento de justicias la demandaba./ The company was trying to expand its market while the Justice Department was suing them.

6. It is also used to describe a scene in the past:


· La nocheestabacalurosa./ The night was hot.

· El paisajeeramaravilloso./ The scenery was marvelous.

NOTE that the following expressions reflect a habitual or repeated action, which often require the use of the imperfect tense: siempre/ always, con frecuencia/ with frequency, generalmente/ generally, todos los días (horas, meses, años)/ everyday (hour, month, year),and por lo general/ in general.


· Siempre llovía en Londres./ It alwaysrained in London.

· Pedíamos préstamos con frecuencia./ Frequently, we would ask for loans.

· Generalmente me sacaba un diez (10) en matemáticas./ Generally, I used to get an A in math.

· Todos los días, tomábamos mate en la Argentina./ Every day we used to drink green tea in Argentina.

· Por lo general, vendíamos mucho antes de Navidad./ In general, we used to sell a lot before Christmas.

7. Imperfect Tense: Irregular Verbs.

Pronoun IR/ to go SER/ to be VER/ to see
yo/ I iba era veía
tú/ you ibas eras veías
él, ella, Ud./ he, she, you iba era veía
nosotros/ we íbamos éramos veíamos
vosotros/ you ibais erais veíais
ellos/ they iban eran veían


The following verbs communicate different ideas when said in the preterit and the imperfect tense:

Poder/ to be able to

· El inmigrante ilegal podía trabajar a escondidas./ The illegal immigrant was able to work secretly.

· Él pudo trabajar./ He did manage to work. (It adds more emphasis)

Conocer/ to meet

· El socio conocía a todos los empleados./ The partnerused to know all of the employees.

· Él conoció a todos los empleados el mes pasado./ He met all of the employees last month.

Saber/ to know

· Sabía la clave de acceso./ I knew the password.

· Supe la clave de acceso./ I found out the password.

Querer/ to want, desire

· Mi cuñada no queríamudarse a los Estados Unidos./ My sister-in-law did not want to move to the US.

· Ella no quiso mudarse./ She refused to move.


The imperfect is used to form idiomatic expressions, such as acabar de and hacía + time + que + imperfect tense:

1. Acabar de describes an action that "had just been done:"

· Acabábamos de comer asado./ We had just eaten some barbecue.

2. hacía + time + que + imperfect tense is used in time expression:

· Hacía unos años que no íbamos al zoológico./ For many years, we had not been going to the zoo.

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