Preterit Tense versus Imperfect Tense
In addition to memorizing the rules of each tense it is important to understand that the Preterit Tense is most equivalent to the Past Tense in English. That said we have to appreciate that every language will not be completely equivalent to English as each language is unique. In Spanish there are two ways to speak of past events: the Preterit and Imperfect Tenses. The Preterit Tense is used with PAST COMPLETE ACTIONS/EVENTS, which may be used to speak of the beginning or the end of these complete actions/events in the past. On the other hand, the Imperfect Tense is used to emphasize the DURATION OF PAST ACTIONS/EVENTS. As a result of the nature of these tenses, in story telling the Preterit Tense is used to NARRATE and the Imperfect Tense is used to DESCRIBE.