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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 will 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 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 can find more detailed information on conjugation in this tense and explanation of exceptions and special cases.

How to translate Imperfecto to English

Note that the English phrases 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 correctly locate the intended position on the timeline is a crucial skill for the right choice of tenses. So pay attention to the timeline in our lessons and visualize it while listening, speaking, writing and reading. After some practice you will be able to select 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 the conjugated forms are one word long. There are also compound (compuesto) tenses in 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 follows the basic rules for its conjugation group (-ar) without any exceptions. This tense is really easy, as there are only three exceptions!
The basis for the conjugation in this tense is the stem of the verb, so we start by splitting the infinitive into a stem and an ending. It’s very easy to do. Just remove two letters from the end of the infinitive to get the ending — one of -ar, -er or -ir. What’s left is the stem. So for our verb:
  • the stem is: acab-
  • and the ending is: -ar
Use the stem acab- in each subject as the basis for conjugations, the common prefix that each of the forms begins with.
Next, add to this regular stem the endings specific to each person. Analyze the image showing all six endings. Note the shapes and colors of the letters. It should 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
Similarly add the regular ending -abas for the second person singular to create acababas:
  • tú acababas – you finished
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
And one more time 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
One more time add the regular ending -abais for the second person plural to create acababais:
  • vosotros acababais – (plural) you finished
  • vosotras acababais – (feminine, plural) you finished
One more time 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

This is it! The conjugation is now finished. The final result looks as follows:

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 is very important to repeat and practice the material in order to retain it. Check below for example sentences and next steps.

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 knowledge 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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