Comer in the Imperfect Indicative Tense

Name In Spanish: Pretérito Imperfecto de Indicativo / Copretérito

There's quite a few different ways that the imperfect tense can be used in Spanish, but in general it refers to a nonspecific or continuous past, which is in direct contrast with the preterite tense, which refers to a particular moment in the past; in essence, if you cannot determine the time period in which the action occurred, you are most likely looking at the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense is very commonly used alongside the preterite to describe background events that were ongoing when something else happened at a specific time. (Everybody was eating when the man pulled out the gun.) A good indicator in English of when to use the imperfect with comer would be if one "used to do something" (I used to eat a lot) or "would do something" (He would only eat once a day). Note that in Spanish, "would" does not always map onto the imperfect tense (alternatively using it in the imperfect subjunctive instead), but if you could use the "used to plus verb" construction in place of the would construction, it's a sure sign that you can use the imperative indicative tense to form your sentence.

When to use this tense with comer

To express habitual actions in the past

Cuando era niña, siempre comía helado los domingos.

Description of the past

Mientras estudiaba, yo comía pipas para mantenerme despierto.

Expression of age in the past

Cuando tenía diez años, comía muchos caramelos.

Conditions or situations that are no longer true

Antes, yo comía carne, pero ahora soy vegetariano.

Read a dialog with comer in the Imperfect Tense

One of the fundamental principle of this site, is that you don't necessarily need to memorise the grammar rules in order to conjugate correctly. It's good to understand the rules of course, but then you also need to practice. Below is a dialog that utilises "comer in the imperfect tense", so you can get a sense of the sentence constructions and situations it which it is used in. You can of course visit the imperfect practice page to read and listen to more Spanish sentences with this conjugation.

Mini Dialog for the Tense

Sara y Pedro se encuentran en la calle después de muchos meses sin verse.

Sara and Pedro meet in the street after many months without seeing each other.

Sara:   Hola Pedro, ¡Qué bien te veo!, ¿has adelgazado?

Hi Pedro, how good you look, have you lost weight?

Pedro:   Gracias Sara. Sí, he bajado algunos kilos. He cambiado mis hábitos alimenticios.

Thank you Sara. Yes, I have lost a few kilos. I have changed my eating habits.

Sara:   Oh! ¡Cuéntame! ¿Cómo lo has conseguido!

Oh, tell me, how did you do it?

Pedro:   Yo antes comía alimentos poco saludables, además yo comía solamente 2 veces al día y mucha cantidad, esto hacía que mi metabolismo fuese más lento.

I used to eat unhealthy food, and I ate only twice a day and a lot of it, which slowed down my metabolism.

Sara:   ¿Solamente comías 2 veces al día y no adelgazabas?

You only ate 2 meals a day and didn't lose weight?

Pedro:   Sí y yo no adelgazaba porque yo comía demasiado, siempre estaba hambriento. Yo comía mucho pan, dulces, patatas fritas, etc.

Yes, and I didn't lose weight because I ate too much, I was always hungry. I ate a lot of bread, sweets, crisps, etc.

Sara:   Entiendo. Tu no comías fruta, ni verduras frescas.

I understand. You didn't eat fruit or fresh vegetables.

Pedro:   Exacto. Mi mujer comía alimentos saludables, pero yo siempre comía algo rápido y muy sabroso. Ahora he aprendido a alimentarme mejor y ahora yo como con mayor frecuencia, así no tengo tanto hambre.

Exactly. My wife used to eat healthy food, but I always ate something fast and very tasty. Now I have learned to eat better and now I eat more often, so I am not so hungry.

Conjugation chart for comer in the imperfect indicative tense

Below is the conjugation table / chart for comer in the imperfect tense, which is more intended as a reference for how the verb is conjugated in Spanish than the English translation that's provided. There are many other occasions that you might use the imperative form, as discussed above other than the direct translation given below. Visit our tables and charts page, for a full reference to all the conjugation tables for comer

Yo comíaI used to eat
Tú comíasYou used to eat
Vos comías(voseo) You used to eat
Usted comía(formal) You used to eat
Él / Ella comíaHe / she used to eat
Nosotros / Nosotras comíamosWe used to eat
Vosotros / Vosotras comíaisYou (all) used to eat
Ustedes comían(formal) You (all) used to eat
Ellos / Ellas comíanThey used to eat

Space for Adverts