Simple Past Tense in Spanish

Simple Past Tense in Spanish

How do you do Simple Past tense in Spanish?

It’s time to learn how to conjugate the Simple Past tense in Spanish. Study Spanish verb conjugations with online lessons. Read about the Spanish grammar rules.

ar, er, ir

The Spanish Preterite Tense is used to describe actions completed at a point in the past.

Tip: The Spanish Preterite is not used to describe habitual or continuous actions in the past with no specific beginning or end. In such cases, the Imperfect Tense is used.

Note: There are only two sets of endings for regular Preterite verbs, one for “- ar” verbs and one for both “- er” and “– ir” verbs. To conjugate a regular verb in the Preterite Tense, simply remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir)
and add the Preterite ending that matches the subject.

Simple Past Tense Conjugation in Spanish

Regular Preterite Verb Endings

 Verbs ending in -ar

Subject-ar Endings

Yo (I)


Usted (You)(Formal)







Subject-hablarEnglish translation

Yo (I)habléI spoke

 (You)(Informal)hablasteYou spoke

Usted (You)(Formal)hablóYou spoke

Él/Ella(He/She)hablóHe/She spoke

Nosotros(as)(We)hablamosWe spoke

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal)hablasteisYou spoke

Ustedes(You)(Formal)hablaronYou spoke

Ellos(as)(They)hablaronThey spoke


 Verbs ending in -er

Subject-er Endings

Yo (I)


Usted (You)(Formal)-ió







SubjectcomerEnglish translation

Yo (I)ComíI ate

 (You)(Informal)ComisteYou ate

Usted (You)(Formal)ComYou ate

Él/Ella(He/She)ComHe/She ate

Nosotros(as)(We)ComimosWe ate

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal)ComisteisYou ate

Ustedes(You)(Formal)ComieronYou ate

Ellos(as)(They)ComieronThey ate


 Verbs ending in -ir

Subject-ir Endings

Yo (I)


Usted (You)(Formal)-ió








SubjectvivirEnglish translation

Yo (I)vivíI lived

 (You)(Informal)vivisteYou lived

Usted (You)(Formal)vivYou lived

Él/Ella(He/She)vivHe/She lived

Nosotros(as)(We)vivimosWe lived

Vosotros(as)(You)(Informal)vivisteisYou lived

Ustedes(You)(Formal)vivieronYou lived

Ellos(as)(They)vivieronThey lived


Simple Past – Examples. Uses of the Preterite

The Preterite is used to talk about completed actions in the past. More specifically, it is used to talk about beginnings and ends, things that took place on specific days or dates, at specific times or during specific time periods, and events in a sequence.

Completed Events

The Preterite is used to talk about completed events, especially those with very clear beginnings and ends.



Compré un coche nuevo. – I bought a new car.

Humberto y Reina se casaron. – Humbert and Reina got married.

Roberto nac en Costa Rica. –  Roberto was born in Costa Rica.

Beginnings and Ends

Beginnings and ends themselves are also talked about using the Preterite. Key verbs you’ll see used to talk about beginnings and ends in the past are empezar(to begin),comenzar(to begin), terminar(to finish), and acabar (to end).



Empezóa nevar. – It began to snow.

La película terminó con una sorpresa. – The movie ended with a surprise.

Specific Times and Dates

The Preterite is used to talk about past events or actions that occurred on specific days or dates, at specific times, and during specific time periods.



Regresé anoche a las diez. – I got back last night at ten.


Viven Perú por tres meses. – He lived in Peru for three months.

Leíste este libro el mes pasado. – You read this book last month.

Nacho nació el tres de Agosto. – Nacho was born on August third.

Events in a Sequence

The Preterite is used for listing past events that took place in a sequence.



Me levanté, me vestí, y salípara la fiesta. – I got up, got dressed, and left for the party.


Tú entraste, bebiste un vaso de agua y comisteuna hamburguesa.- You came in, drank a glass of water, and ate a hamburger.

Learn more about the Spanish verb tenses

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