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Learn haber conjugation in Imperfecto

haber means: to have (auxiliary verb)
Click to see all conjugation charts of haber in every tense

In this conjugation lesson we are going to learn how to inflect the verb haber 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 haber verb conjugation. For an overview of all the Simple Tenses conjugation check 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 may find more detailed 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 accurately locate the intended position on the timeline is an important skill for proper choice of tenses. So pay attention to the timeline in our lessons and visualize it while listening, speaking, reading or writing. After some practice you’ll 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 its 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 haber has regular conjugation in the Imperfecto tense of the Indicativo mood. It means that this verb simply follows the basic rules for its group (-er) without any exceptions. This tense is really easy, because there are only three exceptions!
The basis for the conjugation in this tense is the stem of the verb, so we need to begin by splitting the infinitive into a stem and an ending. It’s really 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 the verb haber it’s easy to see that:
  • the stem is: hab-
  • and the ending is: -er
Use the stem hab- in each subject as the basis for conjugations, the common prefix or root 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. Notice the shapes and colors of the letters. They are arranged to help you find patterns and make it easier to remember these endings.

Also notice that in verb groups -er and -ir all six endings in both Pretéterito Imperfecto and Condicional tenses are identical. Good tip to remember. The only difference is that the Condicional uses the entire infinitive as the stem.Each grammatical person has a specific ending in each of the three conjugation groups -ar, -er, -ir.
endings preterito imperfecto er how to conjugate spanish verbs
Add the regular ending -ía for the first person singular to create había:
  • yo había – I
Once more add the regular ending -ías for the second person singular to create habías:
  • tú habías – you
Like in the previous case add the regular ending -ía for the third person singular to create había:
  • él había – he
  • ella había – she
  • usted había – (formal) you
And similarly add the regular ending -íamos for the first person plural to create habíamos:
  • nosotros habíamos – we
  • nosotras habíamos – (feminine) we
And once more add the regular ending -íais for the second person plural to create habíais:
  • vosotros habíais – (plural) you
  • vosotras habíais – (feminine, plural) you
And add the regular ending -ían for the third person plural to create habían:
  • ellos habían – they
  • ellas habían – (feminine) they
  • ustedes habían – (formal, plural) you

That’s it! The conjugation is now done. Put together, the conjugation chart looks like this:

Click to see all conjugation charts of haber in every tense

But do not end your session yet – it is very important to repeat and practice the material in order to remember it. Check below for examples and suggestions.

Example sentences

Habían contratado a muchos vendedores para la campaña de rebajas.
The had hired many sellers for the sales campaign.
El niño vomitó todo lo que le habían hecho deglutir.
The child vomited everything that they made him swallow.
Él ya había ido.
He had already gone.
Nunca habían explorado aquellas cuevas.
They have never explored those caves.
Las perlas del collar se habían desparramado por todo el suelo de la habitación.
The pearls of the necklace had scattered all over the floor of the room.
Julia había decorado su casa con un gusto exquisito.
Julia had decorated her house with exquisite taste.
La estricta política del gobierno había dividido al país entre detractores y partidarios del presidente.
Strict government policy had divided the country between opponents and supporters of the president.
El grupo jamás había gozado tanto dando un concierto.
The group had never enjoyed giving a concert so much.
Antes de que la plaga se extendiese había que encontrar una vacuna.
Before the plague spread it was necessary to find a vaccine.
Por fin había dilucidado la solución al problema.
I had finally elucidated the solution to the problem.

Next Steps to Perfection

  • To practice this conjugation and test yourself 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 haber visit our Exercise section
  • To see conjugation charts in all tenses for haber visit the Conjugator
  • To explore other learning materials visit the Study section


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