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Lynn Eggers
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Username: Leggs

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2007

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Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 02:12 pm:   

I was talking with a friend the other day about a conversation I had had with another friend. I said, "Yo estaba hablando con Carlos y él me dijo que ..." My friend corrected me, saying that it should be, "Estuve hablando ..."

I understand that I might say "Estuve hablando a Carlos por una hora" but I don't understand the correction in this case.

Could you clarify?

Gracias
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Joshua H.
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Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 09:04 am:   

The reason why you friend told you to use "estuve" instead of "estaba" is that you are speaking of a moment that occurred in time. The moment definitely had an end because you spoke to him at that time and at that time he told you that, hence for the usage of the preterit not the imperfect. Hope that helps :-)
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Lynn Eggers
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Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2007 - 07:08 am:   

I had thought about that, but it doesn't seem consistent with other uses. For example, the classic use of the imperfect, as given in the textbooks, is something like "Cuando estaba hablando con Carlos, mi madre me llamó. That, also, is a moment in time. It doesn´t make sense to me that one would switch tenses based on the in- or exclusion of the work cuando, but I suppose it´s possible. After all, one often uses the subjunctive based on grammatical construction rather than on the meaning of the sentence.

It's also interesting to me that no textbook I've used even mentions existence of the, what? preterit progressive?

Of course, I believe that this particular friend is sometimes a bit picky and that sometimes Spanish doesn't make sense, any more than English does.
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Reeever P.
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Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - 05:14 pm:   

Don't feel badly, about it. I, too, have had the same concerns, from time-to-time. I use the "imperfect tense" more than is grammatically correct, too.
I have a hard time visualizing "a point in time", in all of the cases where the pretérito is used. If I don't perceive it as a "specific point [in time]", I will switch to the imperfect: with the same results, as you received.
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Reeever P
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Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - 08:26 pm:   

http://sipuebla.com/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=2&post=84#POST84

In actuality, though, Lynn, the word "when" actually does not pinpoint a moment, in time.

Example:

"When I was washing the dishes..."
(Cuando lavaba la vajilla...)

This phrase, in English, can be the following:

"At around the time I was doing [washing] the dishes..."

So, the imperfect fits, as it is an action that is "ongoing, in the past".

On the other hand, the phrase "I was talking to Carlos and he told me that...." is different.

At that 'specific point in time' you were talking to Carlos and he told you something.

I truly think that English and Spanish grammar are indeed different. I, too, have to somehow resist concluding that "I was talking, speaking, working, washing, etc." is always translated into the imperfect tense of the verb, when going from English to Spanish.

:-)
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Native speaker
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Posted on Sunday, May 04, 2008 - 08:02 am:   

Hi !

I'm a native speaker and I can tel you that in some sentences (like his one) you can use both, estaba o estuve, but there is a slight difference in the meaning. If you say "El otro día estaba hablando con Carlos y me dijo que...(lo que sea)" it seems that the action (speaking with Carlos) is closer in time than if you say "El otro día estuve hablando con Carlos".

However, if you use estaba, you have to put a time expression, like "El otro día", and this is not necessary with estube.I mean, you can say "Estube hablando con Carlos y me dijo..." but not "Estaba hablando con Carlos y me dijo..." if you don't have a context.

I give you a practical example: (dialoge)

SPEAKER 1: ¿sabes si quedan entradas para el concierto?
SPEAKER 2 (answer1):Estube hablando con Carlos y me dijo que se habían vendido todas.
SPEAKER 2 (answer2):El otro día estaba hablando con Carlos y me dijo que se habían vendido todas.
SPEAKER 2 (answer3):Estaba hablando con Carlos y me dijo que se habían vendido todas.

------------------
In this example, only answers 1 and 2 are correct.

Hope I've helped you
P.D.:You can make any needed corrections on my English.
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Linda Walker
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Username: Linwall

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Registered: 09-2008

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Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2008 - 08:37 pm:   

Ouf amigos,
As for me l have decided that from now on l will use estaba as my auxiliary for the past progressive and use estuve for one time not on going past finished action.
Cuando estaba hablando con ella vi a mi madre.
La semana pasada estuve enferma.
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SLR
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Posted on Sunday, November 09, 2008 - 11:22 am:   

Hi, I am a native speaker and I think you can use both depending on what you want to express. Using "estaba" suggests 2 actions in the past, one was in progress (estaba hablando) when the other occurred (el me dijo) and it's important for you to express that fact.
“Estaba corriendo y me torci el tobillo” (I was running and I twisted my ankle, one action interrupts the other and I want to communicate that fact)
“Estuve mirando la television y vi muchos comerciales nuevos”. (The important fact is that I saw new commercials on TV, not that one action interrupted the other)

SLR
www.spanishlearningresources.com
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Robert B. Scott
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Posted on Friday, March 06, 2009 - 06:19 am:   

Estuve vs. estube
I know that the sound is near identical in Spanish. Is this technically incorrect to use "b chica" insead of "v" or has changing practice blurred the rule or changed it completely.
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rafaelamador
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Posted on Monday, July 06, 2009 - 03:08 pm:   

HOLA ROBERT, EN CASTELLANO NUNCA SE ESCRIBE ESTUBE A MENOS Q NO SEPAS D ORTOGRAFIA
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Philip Kirkland
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Posted on Monday, May 31, 2010 - 04:04 pm:   

@Native Speaker, shame on you! Estube is definitely not correct. To non-native speakers, this mistake comes about precisely because, at least in Mexico, speakers don't make a distinction in sound between b and v. A little like some English speakers write "should of" instead of "should have".
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Jaime
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Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010 - 10:08 am:   

As I see£¬nobody has clear idea of using Estuve or Estaba. In my opinion I prefer to say that it sounds better to use Estuve in statments, and Estaba for long sentences describing situation.
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Jaime
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Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010 - 10:40 am:   

I should put some exemples for better understading of what I say:

Ayer estuve en Francia. <- This sentence sounds like no need to say anything else.
Ayer estaba en Francia y ... <- With estaba there is a kind of willing to describe a context.

Is not this verb implies time expression in this case, as all the spanish verbs do inflexions (as somebody posted), but a position in time within some situation.

However in Spain we never have clear use defitinion of this verb when it complies with the same semantic fuction, althought is sometimes "clear" depending on what word are you going to use after this verb, after that, making an analogy it stucks into confusion.

For instance, estuve enfermo y estaba enfermo. Comparing these 2 sentence, many people can say it sounds better estaba enfermo, but nobody can say that estuve enfermo is not correct. Therefore we go into the conclusion use that is just the same, but it depens on the person is talking for determining one or another use.
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Jaime
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Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010 - 11:43 am:   

I am reading about again to finally get this contrast verb issue and it should exist some clear definition before this case of estuve and estaba, as it is definded in its conjugation ESTAR chart.
Estaba is simple past imperfect and Estuvo is simple past "perfect". Perfect always means the verb £¨that is always an action£© is going after is already done, finished, that is not going on happeing anymore. So the use should be more clear. Estaba implies something was happening in the past but still can be happening, while estuve is something that is not happening now. Then I can imagine most of the cases we should use estaba because most of the actions can happen again anytime. I am right so far? One have to think a little bit then before use one of another.
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Jaime
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Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010 - 11:54 am:   

Another instance I can use to get finally understanding of this thread porpose is, (I can use) the same exemple I used before:
Ayer estaba en Francia, pero aun lo estoy, por que el vuelo se ha retrasado un dia. If we think a little bit deep in, we just need to say... aun estoy en Francia por que ... But it has more sense if we say: El ano pasado tambien estaba en Francia £¬implying he or she is now in France, but he maybe was not in some certain time in the past between now and that time the speaker is refering to.
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Jaime
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Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010 - 12:17 pm:   

So... to respon correctly to £¢why I should use Estuve hablando con Carlos" instead of "estaba hablando con Carlos" question, it depens if you are still holding a conversation with Carlos and talk about the past in the same time (meaning you hold one conversation meanwhile having another one that is kind of rude hehe). Now I just realize I am wrong in what I post before, is not that Estaba is something "can" happen, is just it "must" happend at the same time you talk about the past. Then Estuve is when the action is not happening at the time you speak. Most probably then in this case "Estuve hablando con Carlos" is the correct sentence because is the most occurrence thing to happend.
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gustavo mejicanos
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Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 06:17 am:   

Basically they are the same, that is the richness of spanish, and both words are used by native speakers more to express a definitive moment in time, but, estuve, maybe wont happen again.... and estaba, it refers to a past that more likely will happen again..... to conclude, 99 % of native speakers wont know the difference.... (providing that 1% of the population teach spanish grammar. Don't worry, probably your friend was just giving you hard time.

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