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How to decide between estuve, yo estaba, yo era or fui

 

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  #1  
Old June 17, 2014, 08:26 PM
artistnatural artistnatural is offline
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Question How to decide between estuve, yo estaba, yo era or fui

OK I have great trouble choosing which 'I was' to use
when trying to make conversation. What general rules
can I use to determine if I should use ...
estuve
or yo estaba
or yo era
or fui?

Here are some typical phrases I should be able to say
but can not
1 I was here 10 years ago
2 I was a painter
3 I was traveling
4 I was sick yesterday
5 I was buying bread
6 I was washing the dog
7 I was tired
8 I was a doctor for 30 years
9 I was at a party


I could add more explanation but am really
hoping for a set of 4 or 5 rules that will fit most
situations.


Thank you,
artistnatural

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  #2  
Old June 17, 2014, 09:19 PM
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Rusty Rusty is online now
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The conjugations of estar are used for a state (or location).
The conjugations of ser are used for a characteristic.
The imperfect tense describes an action/state that started in the past, but was not finished.
The preterit tense describes an action/state that had both a start and an end in the past.

Apply these simple rules to your sentences and you shouldn't get any of them wrong.
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Old June 17, 2014, 10:17 PM
artistnatural artistnatural is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
The conjugations of estar are used for a state (or location).
The conjugations of ser are used for a characteristic.

The imperfect tense describes an action/state that started in the past, but was not finished. The preterit tense describes an action/state that had both a start and an end in the past.

Apply these simple rules to your sentences and you shouldn't get any of them wrong.
--------------------------------------------------


OK thank you Rusty for the reply. This stuff is like trying to nail jelly to a wall -nothing sticks.

1 I was here 10 years ago
Location for #1
so either estuve or estaba
and no defined end so it's estaba? OK?


2 I was a painter
Being a painter is a profession so use era OK

3 I was traveling
No idea re this one -am I still traveling

4 I was sick yesterday -a state -so it's estar
-But am I still sick ??? so can not chose between estuve or estaba

5 I was buying bread
No defined start or stop -no idea otherwise

6 I was washing the dog
Again
no defined start or stop -no idea otherwise

7 I was tired
A state of being-so estar but no idea if estuve or estaba is to be used. Am i still tired

8 I was a doctor for 30 years
Here I believe the rule is professions call for 'era' Case closed. OK

9 I was at a party

Location right -calls for estar -but no idea if I should use estuve or estaba

2 out of nine -not good

artistnatural

Last edited by Rusty; June 17, 2014 at 10:19 PM. Reason: fixed quote
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Old June 17, 2014, 11:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by artistnatural View Post
1. I was here 10 years ago.
(Are you still there? It doesn't sound like it. If not, there was an end to your being there. Estuve aquí hace diez años.)

2. I was a painter.
Being a painter is a profession so use era

3. I was traveling.
(No end is mentioned, so the imperfect is used.)

4. I was sick yesterday -a state -so it's estar
But am I still sick???
(The 'yesterday' in 'I was sick yesterday' implies that you are not still sick. If you are still sick, you would go on to state that.)

5. I was buying bread ...
(There's no end mentioned, so it's imperfect. This phrase may also be used to set the stage for something else that occurred in the past (that's why I added the ellipsis). The 'buying' was an interrupted event, but you continued 'buying' after the other event had an end. So, in either case, 'was buying' is imperfect.)

6. I was washing the dog ...
(Same as above. There's no end mentioned, or it could be setting the stage for another event that had a start and an end.)

7. I was tired.
Am I still tired???
(No end is mentioned, so you could still be tired. If you aren't still tired, you use the preterit. That means that there was a start and an end to the state. You can also say more to make that fact more clear.)

8. I was a doctor for 30 years.
Professions call for 'era' Case closed.
(Without mentioning a time period or a span of time, the case is closed. "Era doctor." That was, and may still be, my profession. But if you add 'in the 80s' or 'for 30 years', you have designated an end and must use the preterit. If you are no longer a doctor, you use the preterit to communicate that.)

9. I was at a party.
Location calls for estar
(Did the party have an end? Or are you setting the stage for something else that happened in the past? End? Preterit. Setting the stage/ongoing? Imperfect.)
When you're setting the stage for something else that occurred in the past, or if you're relating a story that happened in the past, you should use the imperfect. In progress, on-going or habitual events in the past all call for the imperfect tense. This is because no end is mentioned.
If the event had a start and an end, the preterit is used to convey that.

Last edited by Rusty; June 21, 2014 at 07:24 AM. Reason: added some wording changes
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  #5  
Old June 21, 2014, 04:59 AM
artistnatural artistnatural is offline
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Thank you Rusty. I am going to have to read and reread this post of yours. It is a very different way of looking at an event that it does not set well with me. But you have answered my question.

Thank you for making an analysis of each sentence -it is what I needed.
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