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I was in the woods.

 

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  #1  
Old May 12, 2017, 08:16 PM
AlwaysLost AlwaysLost is offline
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I was in the woods.

In my notes, I saw, "Yo era en el bosque" and it struck me as wrong. There are two issues. The first is that I'm sure estar needs to be used. And the second, I believe preterite is the correct tense because I specific time has not been mentioned.

I think it's, "Yo estuve en el bosque." Is this right?

Last edited by AlwaysLost; May 12, 2017 at 08:18 PM.
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  #2  
Old May 12, 2017, 08:20 PM
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estuve (completed action, started and ended)
or
estaba (started, ongoing or habitual action - not ended)
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Old May 13, 2017, 10:17 PM
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JPablo JPablo is offline
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@ AlwaysLost:

Si estabas en el bosque, y lo sabías, entonces no estabas perdido..., ¿verdad?

Si estuviste en el bosque, entonces no estabas perdido, pues sabías donde estabas.

(Nothing against using "AlwaysLost", or me using it as a way to make puns, but it is good to recognize where you are... and find your way!)

Rusty's explanation is simple and clear. If my intervention is not clear enough, I can always clarify!

Hope you are doing better and better!
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Last edited by JPablo; May 14, 2017 at 05:49 PM. Reason: Had to fix couple of typos, pointed out to me by Rusty! (Thank you, Rusty!)
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Old May 14, 2017, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysLost View Post
In my notes, I saw, "Yo era en el bosque" and it struck me as wrong. There are two issues. The first is that I'm sure estar needs to be used. And the second, I believe preterite is the correct tense because I specific time has not been mentioned.

I think it's, "Yo estuve en el bosque." Is this right?
You are correct regarding the first issue: estar to describe physical location of a person or object.

For the second issue: as Rusty indicates, both imperfect and preterite are equally valid with no mention of time, but each choices implies different things.
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Old May 16, 2017, 09:24 PM
AlwaysLost AlwaysLost is offline
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There is no reference to a beginning or end. This is a place that I've been to, which sounds like a completed action.


The two examples I have are...
Fueron a Buenos Aires Ayer.
Sandra esperaba al doctor.


Here are two questions I hope will clarify the issue. Does everyone agree that my sentence needs context and cannot be said without context? And would you say the same of the two examples?

Maybe I should scrap the sentence. It was meant to represent Sandra esperaba al doctor.
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Old May 16, 2017, 09:37 PM
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You'll find there is context, unless these sentences were invented out of thin air.
Knowing the context will always help you figure out which past tense to use.

If Sandra was waiting on the doctor, it's imperfect (not completed - no ending implied or stated - the action was started, but didn't end - it could be something she did out of habit or custom, and she could still be waiting). This is the tense used for telling a story (with all the gory details) about something that was happening in the past.

If Sandra waited on the doctor, it's a done deal, whether implied or stated. She is no longer waiting, so this is a case for the preterit tense.

The 'fueron ayer' sentence clearly provides start and end points. No more context is needed.
The 'esperaba' sentence is a clear case of imperfectness. However, it would be nice to have more context, so we know more of the details of the story you've started. If they went to Buenos Aires and Sandra dropped by the doctor's office while there, connect the events. It is perfectly OK to start describing the details of that visit using the imperfect tense, even though the 'getting there' had a start and an end.

Last edited by Rusty; May 16, 2017 at 09:41 PM.
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