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A mental image


Mandy says:  “When I’m trying to decide whether I need the imperfect or the preterite in the past and it’s something with simultaneous actions or an interrupting action, I often make a mental image in my head.”

  • First , she draws a horizontal line to represent “the ongoing activity,” or the action that would be expressed in the imperfect (i.e., “If I’m driving down the road.”)  
  • Then, she crosses the horizontal line with a vertical line, representing an action that “comes down and breaks that [ongoing] activity up – it separates it, interrupts it. That would be my preterite because it’s not ongoing.  It’s a one-time thing and it’s done and it’s over.  … That’s my interrupter; that’s the preterite.”

Listen to Mandy explain this strategy and give an example in the video clip.




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