Memo to Self...

Monday, September 10, 2001

Err...hi everyone. I know it's Sunday, and I have had classes since Tuesday, but...err...sorry. I had work on Wed, Rday was mi B-day, I did a 9 to 5 on Fri and closed yesterday. Plus I been chillin', and really strangely tired. But no matter my excuses! These sorts of study habits will lead me down the road of destruction and less than good grades! BAD ME! *whomps self*

Okay, now that I'm down with the self-flagellation, let's get down to business.

Spanish: Guess what kids? It's preterite and imperfect time! Yes, one of the banes of Spanish grammar is its double past tense (the others are: por vs. para, the uses of the subjunctive, and ser vs. estar, though the last one isn't SO bad). Once explained correctly, it's all right, but there are little nuances to it that just BITE. In essence, the preterite is used for completed past actions, and the imperfect is used for repeated past actions, descriptions, and that sort of thing. My favorite explanation of this came from my Prof last semester. He said that if time can be represented on a graph, then the imperfect is a sine or cosine graph--a never ending curve. The preterite, on the other hand, represents points on that line, actions already done.

Enough of that, here's what the worksheet says:

  • To describe single events in the past that are considered completed.
    Ex: Nací en Puerto Rico (I was born in Puerto Rico).
  • To describe events that took place a specific number of times.
    Ex: Comí tres veces en el restaurante la semana pasada. (Last week I ate in the restaurant three times.)
  • To express the beginning or end of a past action.
    Ex: Se conocieron en abril y se mudaron juntos en Mayo. (They met in April and moved in together in May.)
  • To express mental or emotional reactions in the past.
    Ex: Me enojé. (I got angry.)

This last one demonstrates an important difference between pret and imperfect. Pret is used for actions of sudden occurence, a swift change--in fact, any change at all from the normal past state.
Common words used with pret are: ayer, anteayer, anoche, una vez-dos veces (once, twice), el mes pasado, el lunes pasado, de repente (suddenly, which goes along with that "sudden change" part of pret.)

  • To describe past actions in progress
    Ex: Que estabas haciendo? (What were you doing?)
  • To describe habitual actions in the past (something you always did).
    Ex: Cuando era niña, leía mucho. (When I was a child, I read a lot.)
  • To describe mental or physical states in the past (characteristics)
    Ex: Mi hermana tenía el pelo largo. (My sister had long hair.)
  • To tell time in the past. SIEMPRE. This is a use that belongs totally to the imperfect. Also, location, weather, and age are imperfect attributes.
    Ex: Era muy temprano. Eran las seis o las siete. (It was very early. It was six or seven o'clock.)
  • To set the scene of what was happening when another event took place.
    Ex: Dormía cuando llamaron. (I was sleeping when they called.)
    Mi amigo veía el final mientras hablaba con su novia. (My friend was watching the end while he was talking with his girlfriend.)
    (NOTE: Guys, I do not recommend this. Your corpus collosum's are too small for it. It'll just tick her off.)
  • To talk about subsequently planned actions using ir + a + infinitive in the past. SIEMPRE for this, too.
    Ex: Ibamos a ir al cine. (We were going to go to the movies.)

Words frequently used with the imperfect are: todos los (time--dias, lunes, etc); siempre, frecuentamente, mientras, de niña/o, de joven; was ___ing, were ___ing, used to, would (when would implies used to in English.)

The imperfect conjugation is easy, so I won't even review it here. The only irregulars are ir, ser, and ver:
ir: iba, ibas, iba, íbamos, iban.
ser: era, eras, era, éramos, eran.
ver: veía, veías, veía, veíamos, veían.

Along with figuring out how to use imperfect and pret, there's also the fact that some verbs (MAJOR verbs) change meaning depending on which tense you use them in. Curious? Well, here they are!

conocí: I met, I made the acquaintance of.
conocía: I knew, was acquainted with
costó: It cost (after purchasing) (the finalized price)
costaba: It cost (before purchasing) (since there's no set price yet)
pude: I was able to and DID
podía: I was in the position to
no pude: I tried but couldn't
no podía: I couldn't, was not able to
quise: I tried to
quería: I wanted to
no quise: I refused, would not
no quería: I didn't want to
supe: I learned, found out
sabía: I knew, knew how to, had the knowledge to
tuve: I had, received
tenía: I had (in my posession)
tuve que: I had to do something, and I did it
tenía que: I had to something, but I didn't necessarily do it

You can see some of the distinctions are PitB (pain in the butt) ones, but it's kinda nice that Spanish follows these tenses so rigorously that they've changed verb meanings to reflect it. Unless you go to Spain, where they tend to avoid the pret. and use a compound past tense instead. (haber + past particple) *sigh* I love you, español...

American Lit: I gave my lecture! End of story. Forgot my outline for it, though, but managed to pass off my discussion notes for it. Whoops. ^^;. She said I did a really good job, though.

Writing Fiction: Discussed the stories (that I forgot to read!) and got into groups about our descriptions with tension. I winged in through the discussion, but my description wasn't too bad, minus the out-to-forever margins (to keep it one page) and the lack of title. Our next assignment is on voice--we have to write the beginning of a story from two different perspectives. I'll see what I can dig up for a beginning. :)

WHEW! I think that's it. Tomorrow is Spanish and Japanese again--and I should really get my vocab up for that class...