Tener, Poder, Querer & Saber in the Preterite

The complications never end with the preterite tense. Not only are there piles of irregular verbs, but some verbs actually change their meaning when put into the preterite tense from the present.

If you speak Spanish on a regular basis, you will come to understand these differences just by hearing them spoken aloud in the context of a conversation. Right now, all you need to do is familiarize yourself with the idea that some verbs can have a different meaning in the past. The more Spanish you speak, the more you’ll adopt these meanings automatically.

Verb

Present Tense

Preterite (Past) Tense

conocer

conozco a – I know (someone)

conocí a – I met (someone)

poder

podemos – we can

pudimos – we managed to
no pudimos – we failed to

querer

quiero – I want, I love

quise – I tried to
no quise – I refused to

saber

sabemos – we know

supimos – we found out

tener

tengo frío – I am cold

tuve frío – I got cold

Por ejemplo:

¿Podemos entrar a su casa?

Can we come inside your house?

Pudimos entrar a tu casa.

We managed to get inside your house.

Te quiero mucho.

I love you very much.

Quise aprender a tocar el piano.

I tried to learn to play piano.

Conozco a tus padres.

I know your parents.

Conocí a tus padres.

I met your parents.

Once you learn how to form the imperfect tense in the next section, you’ll learn how to give these verbs their original meaning again, as in, “I knew,” “I could,” “I wanted,” et cetera.


Rocket Reinforcement

Reinforce your learning from this lesson with the Rocket Reinforcement tools! Improve your knowledge and retention of the Spanish you learn!

Hear It Say It!

0 / 6

Write It!

0 / 6

Know It!

0 / 6