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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 conjugation lesson we are going to learn how to conjugate 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 verb conjugation. For a general overview of Simple Tenses conjugation see our Simple Tenses Conjugation Chart.

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

How to translate Imperfecto to English

Notice 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 desired position on the timeline is an important skill for the right choice of tenses. So note the timeline in our lessons and visualize it while listening, speaking, writing and reading. After a bit practice you will 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 the inflected forms are one word long. There are also compound (compuesto) tenses in Spanish language, where each conjugated verb form consists of two words.The verb acabar has an entirely regular conjugation in the Imperfecto tense of the Indicativo mood. It means this verb simply follows the general rules for its conjugation group (-ar) without any exceptions, spelling corrections and the like. This tense is really easy, as only three exceptions exist!
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 easy to do. Just remove two letters from the end of the infinitive and you have the ending — one of -ar, -er or -ir. What’s left is the stem. So in case of our verb:
  • the stem is: acab-
  • and the ending is: -ar
Use the stem acab- in each subject as the basis for conjugation, the common prefix or root 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 both the colors and shapes of the letters. They are arranged to 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
And as before add the regular ending -abas for the second person singular to create acababas:
  • tú acababas – you finished
One more time 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
Similarly 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
Also as in the previous case 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 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. That’s the final result:

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 examples and suggestions.

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 yourself try 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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