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The Ser and Ir Preterite Conjugation: A Useful Common Past to Know

We all know that mastering irregular verbs like ser (to be) and ir (to go) can be tricky. Very often, however, we can take advantage of those special rules that make the learning process a bit easier. In this lesson, we will explore one of them: the ser and ir preterite conjugation!


The Ser and Ir Preterite Conjugation 

First of all, the good news: the verbs ser and ir share the same simple past conjugation! By simple past, we are referring to what is known in Spanish as pretérito perfecto simple or just pretérito (preterite). That being said, let’s review the ser and ir preterite conjugation of these two verbs.


The Preterite Conjugation of the Verb Ser


Yo fui | I was
Tú fuiste | You were
Él/Ella fue | He/She was
Nosotros fuimos | We were
Vosotros fuisteis | You were
Ellos fueron | They were


Let's see a couple of examples:


Pensar que un día fui la respuesta

To think that one day I was the answer

Caption 15, Belanova - Tal vez

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Aprendí que los primeros en hacer cómic fueron los aztecas.

I learned that the first ones to make comics were the Aztecs.

Captions 47-48, Antonio Vargas - Artista - Comic

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The Preterite Conjugation of the Verb Ir


Yo fui | I went
Tú fuiste | You went
Él/Ella fue | He/She went
Nosotros fuimos | We went
Vosotros fuisteis | You went
Ellos fueron | They went


Did you see that? The ser and ir preterite conjugation is the same! Now, let's see a couple of examples with the verb ir:


Y sí, definitivamente fuimos a tomar un café, fuimos a cenar.

And yes, we definitely went for a coffee, went to dinner.

Caption 18, Enanitos Verdes - Luz de día

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¿Y te fuiste a vivir con tu novio con cuánto?

And you went to live with your boyfriend when you were how old?

-Con diecisiete.

-I was seventeen.

Caption 92, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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We also use the simple past conjugation of the verb ir for the reflexive form irse (to leave):


Yo me fui de la casa cuando tenía nueve años.

I left home when I was nine years old.

Caption 41, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 5

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Desde aquel día que te fuiste, supe que eras para mí

From that day on which you left, I knew you were for me

Caption 1, Andy Andy - Maldito Amor

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That's all for now. But before we leave, a short exercise for you: Write 10 sentences using the preterite of the verb ser and 10 sentences using the preterite of the verb ir. and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.


Dolobu: Playing "al vesre"

To introduce this popular song, singer Marciano Cantero of Argentina's Los Enanitos Verdes ("The Green Dwarfs") shares the story of an encounter in Denver:


Me acerqué, así como haciéndome el dolobu.

I came closer, pretending to be a fool.

Caption 12, Enanitos Verdes - Luz de día

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Here is another example, this time from the Argentinian telenovela Muñeca Brava.


Y tuvieron un hijo juntos pero después el señor Federico se hizo el dolobu.

And they had a son together but afterwards Mr. Federico played the fool.

Caption 66, Muñeca Brava - 36 La pesquisa

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¿DolobuTry to find that word in a formal dictionary. You can't. That's because dolobu is an inverted slang form of the slang word boludo -- which we wrote about some weeks backFor Argentines like Marciano and many of his fans, boludo ("jerk" or "fool") is such a popular taunt that they have little trouble recognizing dolobu as a scrambled version of it.

There's a term for this sort of scrambling slang in Spanish: Al vesre--which is al reves ("in reverse") in al vesre. Got that? Think of it as a form of Pig Latin.

As a general rule, scrambling syllables a la al vesre will shade a word with more negative connotations than its original meaning. For example, while boludo may be a friendly greeting between friends (as we noted in this space previously), dolobu is more often a straight-up insult. Here are some more examples:

Hotel ("hotel") becomes telo (with the silent "h" dropped to preserve its pronunciation) when it's a seedy, rent-by-the-hour, love motel.

A sifón ("siphon") becomes a fonsi to describe the sort of hooked nose reminiscent of a siphon.

The already vulgar verb cagar ("to defecate") becomes garcar (with an "r" added to keep it recognizably a verb in the infinitive), with roughly the same crude meaning.


There are countless other examples. For further discussions of al vesre slang, see these web pages:

Wikipedia > Vesre (in Spanish)
Wikilibros > Diccionario de Vesre
(in Spanish)


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