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    Meaning Changes: Preterite vs. Imperfect

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    Please translate the following, using the preterite or imperfect form of the verb as needed.
    Verbs used: conocer, saber, querer, poder

    1. Did you meet someone famous last year?

    2. She didn't know how to cook well.

    3. He tried to fix the car.

    4. He failed to determine the problem.

    5. Unfortunately, my mother found out.

    6. I used to know him.

    7. The little girl refused to eat.

    8. He succeeded in solving the problem.

    9. The little boy didn't want to go to school.

    10. He wanted to stay home.

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    Solution Preview

    The issues at play here are meaning changes. For certain verbs, meaning changes according to whether they are expressed in the imperfect or the preterite.

    1. ¿Conociste a alguien famoso el año pasado?
    ?In the preterite, 'conocer' means 'to meet for the first time rather' than 'to be familiar with.'

    2. (Ella) No sabía cocinar bien.
    ?In the imperfect, 'saber' means to 'know as a fact/how to do ...

    Solution Summary

    With certain verbs in Spanish, meaning changes according to whether the verb is conjugated in the preterite or the imperfect tense. This solution gives specific examples of these rules, the reasons behind them, and provides practice for those seeking to understand this function of Spanish grammar or just wanting extra practice.