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8.10 TALKING ABOUT THE PAST: Irregular Verbs

There are certain verbs that don’t follow the pattern of ‘ar’, ‘er’ and ‘ir’ verbs in the past. Let’s cover the important ones.

SER – To be and IR – To go

The verbs ‘ser’ and ‘ir’ have the same form in the preterite (simple past) tense.

Yo fui – I was, I went
Tú fuiste – You were, you went (informal)
Usted fue – You were, you went (formal)
Él/Ella fue – He/She was, he/she went
Nosotros/Nosotras fuimos – We were, we went
Ustedes fueron – You were, you went (plural)
Ellos/Ellas fueron – They were, they went

Sound Click here to listen

Let’s look at some examples:

Fui al cine ayer – I went to the cinema yesterday
¿Fuiste al supermercado esta mañana? – Did you go to the supermarket this morning?
La señora fue muy amable – The lady was very nice
Fuimos buenos amigos en la escuela – We were good friends in school.
Los futbolistas fueron amables – The soccer players were nice
Ustedes fueron nuestros vecinos en Madrid, ¿verdad? – You were our neighbors in Madrid, right?

Sound Click here to listen

ESTAR – To be and TENER – To have

The verbs ‘Estar’ – ‘to be’ and ‘Tener’ – ‘to have’ have similar irregular conjugations in the preterite tense.

ESTAR – To be

Yo estuve

I was

Tú estuviste

You were (informal)

Usted estuvo

You were (formal)

Él/Ella estuvo

He/She was

Nosotros/Nosotras estuvimos

We were

Ustedes estuvieron

You were (plural)

Ellos/Ellas estuvieron

They were

Sound Click here to listen

TENER – To have

Yo tuve

I had

Tú tuviste

You had (informal)

Usted tuvo

You had (formal)

Él/Ella tuvo

He/She had

Nosotros/Nosotras tuvimos

We had

Ustedes tuvieron

You had

Ellos/Ellas tuvieron

They had

Sound Click here to listen

Let’s look at some examples with the verb 'estar':

Estuve preocupado ayer – I was worried yesterday
¿Estuviste enfermo/a anoche? – Were you sick last night?
Ella estuvo en Londres el mes pasado – She was in London last month
Ellos estuvieron cansados después de la fiesta – They were tired after the party

Sound Click here to listen

And now some examples with the verb 'tener':

No tuve suficiente tiempo para terminar el trabajo – I didn’t have enough time to finish the job
Tuviste mucha suerte – You were lucky (lit. You had luck)
Él tuvo que salir temprano – He had to leave early (‘tener que’ – ‘to have to’)
Tuvimos un accidente hace tres meses – We had an accident 3 months ago
(Ellos) tuvieron un buen viaje – They had a good trip

Sound Click here to listen

DECIR – To say and TRAER – To bring

DECIR – To say

Yo dije

I said

Tú dijiste

You said (informal)

Usted dijo

You said (formal)

Él/Ella dijo

He/She said

Nosotros/Nosotras dijimos

We said

Ustedes dijeron

You said (plural)

Ellos/Ellas dijeron

They said

Sound Click here to listen

TRAER – To bring

Yo traje

I brought

Tú trajiste

You brought (informal)

Usted trajo

You brought (formal)

Él/Ella trajo

He/She brought

Nosotros/Nosotras trajimos

We brought

Ustedes trajeron

You brought

Ellos/Ellas trajeron

They brought

Sound Click here to listen

Let’s look at some examples with 'decir':

No dije nada – I didn’t say anything
¿Lo dijiste ayer? – Did you say it yesterday?
Ella nos dijo varias veces – She told us several times
Dijimos la verdad – We told the truth
Ellos dijeron que es cierto – They said it was right

Sound Click here to listen

Now examples with 'traer':

Te traje una camiseta – I brought you a T-Shirt
¿Trajiste algo para la fiesta? – Did you bring something for the party?
Ella me trajo un regalo – She brought me a present
Trajimos el vino que te gusta – We brought the wine you like
Ellos trajeron los niños – They brought the kids

Sound Click here to listen