Spanish Preterite Tense Lesson Plans

Oh, the exciting preterite tense! There’s nothing quite as fun for language students than mastering a past tense in Spanish, el pretérito. One of the many ways to express actions in the past, the preterite tense is full of exceptions and categories of verb conjugations.

There is much for students to learn, memorize, and practice when it comes to the preterite tense. It is typically helpful for students to think of preterite verbs in distinct categories and then to learn and apply the rules for that category. Below are the various categories (new stems and verbs with “y” and “í” are not complete lists, only some of the most common). The new stems category on its own is fairly complex, and thus in that storyboard template you will find more details on how it works.

Student Activities for Spanish Preterite

Spanish Preterite Verb Categories

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Category 6 Category 7 Category 8
Regular -AR Regular -ER/IR -CAR, -GAR, -ZAR Ser & Ir Dar & Ver Present Tense Boot Verbs New Stems Verbs with “y” & “í”
  • -aste
  • -amos
  • -asteis
  • -aron
  • -iste
  • -ió
  • -imos
  • -isteis
  • -ieron
  • -CAR → -qué
  • -GAR → -gué
  • -ZAR → - cé
  • fui
  • fuiste
  • fue
  • fuimos
  • fuisteis
  • fueron
  • di / vi
  • diste / viste
  • dio / vio
  • dimos / vimos
  • disteis / visteis
  • dieron / vieron
    -AR & -ER boot verbs:
    don’t change!

    -IR boot verbs:
  • o → u
  • e → i
    • only in 3rd person!
  • tener
  • estar
  • poder
  • hacer
  • poner
  • andar
  • venir
  • querer
  • saber
  • caber
  • traer
  • decir
  • traducir
  • conducir
  • caer
  • creer
  • leer
  • oír

After memorizing the categories and patterns, students will need a lot of practice. These storyboard templates and activities are designed to help students practice and internalize these categories and patterns, as well as put the preterite forms into context with an eye towards their meanings.

Image Attributions
  • Award • andybee21 • License Attribution (
  • Award • stefan.erschwendner • License Attribution (
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