How to tell stories in Spanish

Osmel Gelvez
April 11, 2024
A sheet of paper where you write tells your story

Telling stories in spanish is one of the most human ways to connect with others, to share our experiences, dreams, and memories.

In learning and using Spanish, mastering the simple past and the imperfect past is not only fundamental for effective communication, but also helps us to enrich our ability to express ourselves and connect with others through conversations.

Through these verb tenses, we can construct a context to revive past moments with clarity and emotion.

The Simple Past: The Time of Completed Actions

The simple past, or preterite perfect simple, is used to indicate actions that started and ended in the past. This verb tense is essential for giving closure to the experiences we narrate, marking the beginning and end of specific events.

Example in Practice:

When I visited Buenos Aires for the first time, I experienced the city in an intense and unique way. 

 I remember walking through the cobblestone streets of the La Boca neighborhood, eating at a traditional barbecue, and being surprised to see the majestic Teatro Colón. Each verb in the simple past here indicates a complete action, a precise moment in my memory.

The Imperfect Past: The Backdrop of Our Stories

On the other hand, the imperfect past is used to describe actions that were unfolding in the past without a defined endpoint. This verb tense establishes the context, describes states or habitual actions in the past, and serves as the backdrop upon which the narrated events unfold.

Example in Practice:

When I was a child, I lived in a small coastal town. I would go to the beach every day and play in the sand until sunset. Here, the imperfect past immerses us in a past atmosphere, in the routine, and in the scenarios that frame our experiences.

Building Stories: The Combination of Simple Past and Imperfect Past

The true magic of narrative happens when we combine these two verb tenses to tell our stories.

Thus, the imperfect past sets the stage, describing the context and circumstances that developed, while the simple past narrates the specific events that occurred at that time.

Example in Practice:

When I lived in Madrid (imperfect), I decided one day to explore the city on my own (simple). As I walked through the streets aimlessly (imperfect), I discovered a hidden little café (simple) that became my favorite corner (simple).

Practical Tips for Learning to Tell Stories in Spanish

  • Practice with Your Own Experiences: Start by narrating simple events from your everyday life, using the simple past for concluded actions and the imperfect past to describe contexts or habitual actions.
  • Read and Listen to Stories in Spanish: Exposing yourself to literature, podcasts, and videos in Spanish will help you become familiar with the narrative structure and the effective use of these verb tenses.
  • Write Regularly: Keep a diary in Spanish where you recount your day, your memories, or invent stories. This will allow you to practice alternating between the imperfect past and the simple past.

Let’s remember that each verb tense has its purpose and beauty within the stories we tell. Learning to use them not only enriches our ability to communicate in a new language but also gives us a powerful tool to connect with other people, sharing fragments of our life and understanding those of others as well.

In conclusion, constant practice, insatiable curiosity, and love for learning are the ideal companions on this journey towards narrative fluency in Spanish.

Thus, as we close this guide, I invite you to carry not only the technical knowledge of how to use the simple past and the imperfect past but also the inspiration to tell your stories, to listen to those of others, and to find in each narration a bridge between different cultural worlds.

Start practicing how to tell your story.

What are you wating for? Learn the real Spanish!

Osmel Gelvez

Osmel Gelvez

Language enthusiast, sharing cultural insights and language tips with a passion for immersion.

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