The narration of past events

Understanding grammar is key to understanding a language.
Spanish grammar tips with Hotel Borbollón, online Spanish lessons.

The narration of past events

For the narration of past events, we can use: the pretérito imperfecto (past progressive); the pretérito indefinido (simple past); or the condicional (conditional).

Creía creer, pret. imperf. que vendrías venir, condicional a cenar, pero finalmente no viniste venir, pret. indefinido

I thought that you would come for dinner, but in the end you didn't come.

We use the pretérito imperfecto (past progressive):

  • to talk about repeated actions (habits or routines) in an undefined past (we do not know when they end).

Llamaba a mi mamá todos los días llamar, pret. imperf..

I used to call my mother every day.

  • for descriptions in the past.

El hotel era muy antiguo ser, pret. imperf..

The hotel was very old.

  • to describe the circumstances surrounding an action in the past.

Llovía cuando llegué al aeropuerto llover, pret. imperf..

It was raining when I arrived at the airport.

We use the pretérito indefinido (simple past) to:

  • talk about a completed action at a precise moment or time in the past.

Compré un billete para el concierto comprar, pret. indefinido.

I bought a ticket for the concert.

  • describe an action which interrupts another ongoing action or state.

Era pobre hasta que gané la lotería ganar, pret. indefinido.

I was poor until I won the lottery. 

We use the conditional to:

  • talk about future from the perspective of the past.

El periódico decía que haría buen tiempo hacer, condicional.

The newspaper said the weather would be nice.

Note: this particular use of the conditional is mainly literary and is only seldom used in speech.

Taking your learning further

Still facing difficulties with 'The narration of past events'? Improve your Spanish with Gymglish - try our Spanish lessons for free now and receive a free level assessment!

Do you know any tips to avoid making mistakes with 'The narration of past events'? Share it with us!

Improve your Spanish further and test Hotel Borbollón, online Spanish lessons.