Past tenses in Spanish

Past tenses in Spanish

Let's see what are the different past tenses in Spanish, what are the differences between them, how to use them, and also where else I can use participle ;)

Past preterite - I did

  • Punctual events
  • Not habits (even if they are repeated a few times)
  • Specific times and/or duration
  • Not being able to translate as "used to" or "was doing"
  • What happened, what people did



  • Habits in the past
  • I can translate as "used to" or "was doing"
  • More ongoing events
  • More unspecific duration
  • Describing how things were, how people felt, etc


Perfect tense - Haber + participle

-Recent things that have happened -Things that have happened in general, in life (ex: what you've done in your life)

Ex: He ido a la tienda hoy - I've gone to the shop today.
Ex: He estado en España dos veces - I've been to Spain two times (in my life)


If we go further back and want do do "something HAD happened", we just conjugate "haber" into imperfect:

Ex: Había escuchado eso antes - I had listened to that before.

Other uses of participle

These are cases where we use participle but not in perfect tense or variables of it.

Passive - Ser + participle

Ex: Fue escrita una nueva ley
A new law was written (by someone) - agrees with the person or thing affected.

(we'd have same translation using impersonal "se": Se escribió una nueva ley)

Participle as an adjective

Ex: Estaba dormida
I was asleep - agrees with the person or object that describes

To know more about participle and see more examples, check this post on infinitive, gerund and participle

You're in a long relationship with tenses, so we'll try to make it as enjoyable as possible :)


¡Hasta pronto! :)