In Spanish, as in other languages, there is more than one way to talk about things that happened in the past tense. We have already learned the preterite tense in Units 5 and 7, which we use to talk about actions that were completed in the past. The imperfect, el imperfecto, can be used to describe things in the past tense as well as talk about things that were happening or used to happen in the past. Do you remember how we talked about thing that happened in the preterite?
In English, it would be like saying “used to + verb” or “was/were + verb + ing” (I used to go to school, I was going to school).
Let’s look at how to form the imperfect tense. It is one of the easiest forms to learn because there are only two sets of endings to remember, regular ‘-ar’ verbs and regular ‘-er/ir’ verbs. As always, we will look to the stem of the verb, and add the appropriate ending:

Ejemplos de verbos en el imperfecto:

  mirar - to look comer - to eat vivir - to live
yo miraba comía vivía
mirabas comías vivías
él/ella/usted miraba comía vivía
nosotros(as) mirábamos comíamos vivíamos
vosotros(as) mirabais comíais vivíais
ellos/ellas/ustedes miraban comían vivían
OJO: Notice the accents on the -er/-ir conjugations and on the nosotros form of -ar verbs!
Aquí hay unos ejemplos. Pulsa para ver qué significan en inglés.
I was writing letters and Enrique was writing letters in the kitchen.
The airplane was flying through the air.
The girls were living in a town close to Seville.
When I was eight years old, I went to Barcelona for the first time.
While we were talking, my mom called me.