+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Perfect vs Imperfect

 
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    329
    Rep Power
    596

    Default Perfect vs Imperfect

    I was talking to my (Argentine) fiancée about the difference between the past tense in Spanish and English and the topic of the imperfect tense came up. I gave the dictionary definition of the imperfect (habitual or repeated action, blablabla) and she gave me the example of "este invierno hizo mucho frío." She says it's correct and I trust her because she's a native speaker (and I have learned what happens when I contradict her...), but my instinct says that "hacia mucho frío" would be correct. What does everyone have to say about this?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hebe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Caracas- Venezuela
    Posts
    1,202
    Rep Power
    3670

    Default


    Sorry Scott .. I have to agree with your girlfriend. You are referring to a specific situation that took place in the past. “Este invierno hizo mucho frío”. The verb tense you are using can be utilized when you are establishing reference of two events that took place in the past example_ “Cuando llegué a la Argentina, hacía mucho frío”. It’s a type of past continuous because you can replace it by ”Cuando llegué a la Argentina, estaba haciendo mucho frío.

    Hope this explanation helped

    PS. You are a very smart guy. Avoiding getting into unnecessary arguments with your girlfriend xis always a good a idea (jeje)


    Truly, my dear young friends, you are a chosen generation. I hope you will never forget it.
    Gordon B. Hinckley

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    329
    Rep Power
    596

    Default

    My confusion comes from the fact that "invierno" is three months. There were many days when it was cold (first snow in 90 years!!!), but others when it was warmer. So, it's a different sense for me, something similar to "cuando era joven". Regarding the use of imperfect with a perfect verb to establish a setting...is it grammatically correct to use an imperfect verb as the only verb in a sentence?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hebe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Caracas- Venezuela
    Posts
    1,202
    Rep Power
    3670

    Default

    I am not sure I understand your question correctly. However, as in the case of English grammar, in Spanish you use present perfect to indicate an action that started in the past and is still ongoing in the present. Example: “I have worked as a translator for 14 years” (implying that I am still working as a translator). But when you are referring to an action that was initiated in the past (no matter how long it lasted) which is not longer valid in the present you just use simple past tense. I worked as a translator for 14 years” (implying that I no longer work as a translator).

    There is an exception to this rule in Argentine Spanish. Normally we say “ella no llegó ayer” (past tense she did not arrive yesterday) and "Ella no ha llegado aún" (present perfect: She has not arrived yet). However in Argentina you would commonly hear /ella no llegó todavía) (Which translated would be something like “she did not arrive yet”).
    In your example, no matter how long the winter was, if it is over, you would say “Hizo frío este invierno (simple past). If winter is not over yet, you would say “Ha hecho mucho frío este verano (present perfect).

    Hope I did not cause more confusion with my explanation.

    Best regards and Have a sunshimy day (if such a thing is possible in winter time)


    Truly, my dear young friends, you are a chosen generation. I hope you will never forget it.
    Gordon B. Hinckley

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hebe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Caracas- Venezuela
    Posts
    1,202
    Rep Power
    3670

    Default

    By the way I forgot to mention again the case in which you are establishing parallelism among several actions that took place in the past: For example
    I was sitting there and it was very cold. - You estaba sentada allí y hacía mucho frío
    As I mentioned earlier in this case you can use the verb form that you suggested to you fiancée


    Truly, my dear young friends, you are a chosen generation. I hope you will never forget it.
    Gordon B. Hinckley

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    329
    Rep Power
    596

    Default

    You've been very helpful Hebe. Thank you. My stubborn nature will not allow me to accept certain things, I suppose. I was confused mostly by the example of the winter being cold...but I will have to resign before the wisdom of others.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    277
    Rep Power
    519

    Default

    If I may say something on the matter, the main difference, in Spanish, between perfect and imperfect tenses, for what I know, is the status in which the action is, that is, finished (perfect) or unfinished (imperfect). The big issue with the translation of Spanish into English, and vice versa, is that the translation of the tenses is not linear: sometimes the simple past can be translated as pretérito perfecto simple, sometimes as pretérito imperfecto.

  8. #8
    Forum User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    76
    Rep Power
    542

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottJ
    My confusion comes from the fact that "invierno" is three months. There were many days when it was cold (first snow in 90 years!!!), but others when it was warmer. So, it's a different sense for me, something similar to "cuando era joven". Regarding the use of imperfect with a perfect verb to establish a setting...is it grammatically correct to use an imperfect verb as the only verb in a sentence?
    If you would kindly allow me to give my opinion. I am very interested in linguistics, and I'd like to make a comment and I wonder if it makes sense to others in the forum. I speak Peruvian Spanish. The sentence "este invierno hizo mucho frio" is not grammatically correct in my view. Firstly, este denotes that we are at the tailend of winter, that we're still in it. Then hizo is in the past simple. In my view, hizo is the wrong tense, it should be ha hecho, or the present perfect, meaning we are still in winter, in the tailend of it, denoted by the word este, and the action is coming from the past into the present.

    You could say, este invierno hizo mucho frio pero yo me mantuve abrigada con la chompa que me mando mi mama. That would be a case when the statement would be allowed - as part of a complex clause - but not on its own.

    To say este invierno esta haciendo mucho frio is correct, i.e. the present continuous, we are in winter and the weather is continuously very cold. However, it would be wrong to say este invierno estuvo haciendo mucho frio unless you put a second statement, for example este invierno estuvo haciendo mucho frio pero yo me mantuve abrigada con la chompa que me mando mi mama. That is, the past continuous is used to denote two events, as is in English.

    Could someone comment on my comment? I'd be grateful if you did.

    Kind regards

    Isabel

  9. #9
    New Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1
    Rep Power
    0

    Default

    Hi everyone!
    Looking at your posts I realize how much of our second language we don't know... and how much we can't possibly catch up.
    I'm Argentinian, and I can't say "X" is right or wrong even within the borders of the country because there are so many variations of Spanish here; and Peruvian (or Chilean or Paraguayan) Spanish is so different from ours! This is a huge country with many different accents, vocabulary and tense patterns.
    I would say "Este invierno hizo mucho frio", if we're still in winter, as well as if we're not in winter anymore; I would never say "Este ( aquel) invierno hacia mucho frio".
    The idea of "was" in the sentences "Last winter was very cold" and in: "We were going to swim yesterday, but it was very cold", would take two different tenses in (my) Spanish: "El invierno pasado hizo mucho frio" and "Estábamos por nadar ayer, pero hacía mucho frio".
    I don't know if it helps or confuses things, but when you look at it the other way around (as myself trying to be a proficient speaker of English as a Second Language), you realize grammatical rules are not fixed in stone... or whatever the saying is!

+ Reply to Thread

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •