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Learn acabar conjugation in Imperfecto

acabar means: to finish, to end
Click to see all conjugation charts of acabar in every tense

In this Spanish conjugation lesson we are going to learn how to inflect the verb acabar in the Imperfecto tense of the Indicativo mood. It means we will see step by step how to create and translate forms of each grammatical person.

This lesson is specifically about the acabar conjugation. For an overview of all the Simple Tenses conjugation check our Simple Tenses Conjugation Chart.

You may also see this Video Presentation on how to conjugate verbs in Imperfecto. It’s embedded below, but using the above link you will get additional information on conjugation in this tense as well as explanation of special cases and exceptions.

How to translate Imperfecto to English

Note that the phrases in English provided below next to each conjugation are not direct translations from Spanish to English. They are usually the closest general equivalents. The example differences are:
  • In Spanish conjugation, there is the form usted in the third person singular. But this person does not translate to the English third person singular. It translates to the so called formal you and uses the inflected form which is most often represented as he/she/it in English conjugation charts.
  • Similar situation happens in the third person plural, where ustedes translates to the English plural formal you but uses the form which corresponds to the they form in English.
  • Tenses are used differently in Spanish and English, so the actual translation should always take into account the context and focus on translating the meaning, not just words.
  • In both languages each verb may have multiple meanings and not every meaning translates directly to the other language. Here also, the context and focusing on the particular meaning helps to create the most accurate translation.

Note the timeline

The ability to properly locate the intended position on the timeline is an important skill for proper use of tenses. So note the timeline in our lessons and visualize it while listening, speaking, writing and reading. After some practice you’ll be capable of selecting the right tense to use much easier.timeline preterito imperfecto how to conjugate spanish verbs

Step by step instructions

Imperfecto belongs to the simple tenses group, which means that all of its inflected forms are one word long. There are also compound (compuesto) tenses in the Spanish language, where each conjugated form consists of two words.The verb acabar has a completely regular conjugation in the Imperfecto tense of the Indicativo mood. It means this verb simply follows the basic rules for its group (-ar) without spelling corrections or exceptions. This tense is really easy, because there are only three irregular verbs!
The basis for this conjugation is the stem of the verb, so we need to begin by splitting the infinitive into a stem and an ending. It’s very easy to do. Simply remove two letters from the end of the infinitive form to get the ending — one of -ar, -er or -ir. What’s left is the stem. So for acabar:
  • the stem is: acab-
  • and the ending is: -ar
Use the stem acab- in each subject as the basis for the conjugation, the common prefix that each of the forms begins with.
Next, add to this regular stem the endings specific to each person. Check out the image showing all the endings. Notice the colors and shapes of the letters. It will help you find patterns and make it easier to remember these endings.Each grammatical person has a specific ending in each of the three conjugation groups -ar, -er, -ir.
endings preterito imperfecto ar how to conjugate spanish verbs
Add the regular ending -aba for the first person singular to create acababa:
  • yo acababa – I finished
Again add the regular ending -abas for the second person singular to create acababas:
  • tú acababas – you finished
And again add the regular ending -aba for the third person singular to create acababa:
  • él acababa – he finished
  • ella acababa – she finished
  • usted acababa – (formal) you finished
Again add the regular ending -ábamos for the first person plural to create acabábamos.
Note difference in spelling

Only the first person plural has an accent here.

This difference exists only in case of the verbs from the -ar group. Other groups always have an accented i in the ending in this tense.So add the accent to get acabábamos:
  • nosotros acabábamos – we finished
  • nosotras acabábamos – (feminine) we finished
Similarly add the regular ending -abais for the second person plural to create acababais:
  • vosotros acababais – (plural) you finished
  • vosotras acababais – (feminine, plural) you finished
And add the regular ending -aban for the third person plural to create acababan:
  • ellos acababan – they finished
  • ellas acababan – (feminine) they finished
  • ustedes acababan – (formal, plural) you finished

Hurray! The conjugation is now done. Put together, the conjugation chart looks like this:

yoacababaI finished
acababasyou finished
él/ella/ustedacababahe/she/it finished
nosotros/nosotrasacabábamoswe finished
vosotros/vosotrasacababaisyou finished
ellos/ellas/ustedesacababanthey finished
Click to see all conjugation charts of acabar in every tense

But do not end your session yet – it’s important to repeat and practice the material in order to remember it. Check below for examples and some links.

Example sentences

Manuela acababa de cerrar la puerta cuando llegó Paco.
Manuela was just finishing closing the door when Paco arrived.

Next Steps to Perfection

  • To practice this conjugation and test your skills check this Conjugation Exercise or the Memory Game
  • To see other conjugation lessons for this verb choose another tense:  
  • For exercises and examples related to acabar visit our Exercise section
  • To see conjugation charts in all tenses for acabar visit the Conjugator
  • To explore other learning materials visit the Study section


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