Spanish Grammar Guide

Tense (past, present, future)

In order to write successfully in Spanish, you need to learn the verb tenses. Tense simply refers to when an event happened (past tense), when it will happen (future tense) or if it is happening (present tense). The main means of indicating this information is by the use of a verb's ending (ella habla, 'she will speak') or by means of an "auxiliary + verb form" structure (ella ha hablado, 'she spoke'; yo voy a salir, 'I will leave').

Within the general categories of past, present and future, a number of subcategories also exist to make finer temporal distinctions. These are illustrated below:


  • preterite -describes a completed event/action, e.g.: hablé 'I spoke'.
  • imperfect -describes a past situation or recurring action, e.g.: hablaba '(s)he was speaking (often/habitually)'.
  • pluperfect -describes an action completed before another past action, e.g.: había hablado '(s)he had spoken'.


  • present -describes a present action or general action, e.g.: hablo 'I speak'
  • present progressive -describes action unfolding or in progress at the moment of speech, e.g.: estamos comiendo 'we are eating'


Verb conjugation:
Spanish Grammar Guide » Verbs (e.g.: hablar, venir, ser, tener, hacer)
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