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Published on: Grammar

Spanish Verbs: Ir Imperfect Conjugation Made Simple

Have you ever noticed that the most common verbs in Spanish tend to be irregular? Well, for better or worse – that continues to be the truth today.

In this article, we’ll be going over the irregular mysteries of the Ir imperfect conjugation. Luckily, we’ll see that it’s not really as difficult as it might seem at first. 

To really master this Spanish verb, we’ll be reviewing it in the present tense and then going over how to conjugate it in the imperfect tense. We’ll also look at a few tips on how to use irregular verbs like this in the imperfect tense. 

By the end of this article – you’ll be a total pro at the Ir imperfect tense. So get ready because today we’re talking all about Ir!

Conjugate Ir Present Tense

The first thing we should do is review the Ir conjugation in the present tense. Since it’s one of the most basic – but common – verbs in Spanish, it’s a good idea to memorize all of its uses as soon as possible. 

So in the present tense, this Spanish verb looks like:

Spanish Personal Pronouns Ir (to be)
Yo Voy
Tú / Vos Vas
Él / Ella / Usted Va
Nosotros Vamos
Vosotros Vais
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes Van


As you can see, the verb Ir is completely irregular. 

Considering Ir is such a short verb, we can’t completely get rid of the stem whenever we’re conjugating it. This means we’ll add in an additional V to make it a little bit easier to pronounce. 

So instead of simply tú as, we say tú vas.


Vos is principally used in many parts of Central America and Rioplatense Spanish (Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, certain parts of Chile). Vosotros is only used in Spain, except for the Canary Islands and parts of Andalusia.

Conjugate Ir Imperfect Tense

So now that we remember what the conjugation for Ir in the present looks like, we can look at it in the imperfect tense. 

On the bright side, Ir isn’t actually too irregular in the imperfect tense. We just have to remember that there’s an extra letter when compared to other IR verbs.

The following table shows Ir in the imperfect tense:

Spanish Personal Pronouns Ir (to be)
Yo Iba
Tú / Vos Ibas
Él / Ella / Usted Iba
Nosotros Íbamos
Vosotros Ibais
Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes Iban


As you can see, it’s not exactly a regular verb because it doesn’t follow the same pattern as any other type of verb, but it also isn’t completely illogical – it still does make sense. 

Just like in the present tense, the Ir imperfect conjugation would sound terrible if we just say “yo ía, tú ías…” So instead, we add in a B to make the pronunciation easier. 

But other than that, the conjugation chart does seem to make sense! 

The imperfect tense, like all verb conjugations, just takes a lot of practice to really make it automatic in your head. So make sure you practice them often. Now, before you start making your flashcards, let’s look at some ways to use the imperfect tense.

How to Use the Imperfect Tense

Image by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

The imperfect tense is used to describe a repeated past action, something without a definite beginning, or to describe how something was in the past. Just for a quick review, let’s go over each of those:

Repeated Past Actions

We used the imperfect tense to describe events that happened frequently in the past. This is in contrast to the Spanish preterite tense, which describes something that occurred with a clear beginning and an end – and only happened once. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Juan siempre iba a dar un paseo por la tarde – Juan used to always go for a walk in the afternoon.
  • Cuando éramos adolescentes, íbamos mucho a ese restaurante – When we were teenagers, we would go to that restaurant a lot.  

In both of these events, you’re describing something that happened more than once, but in the past. This is why we put Ir in the imperfect tense. 

No definite beginning and end

We can also use the imperfect tense for examples where there isn’t a definite beginning or end. In other words – the exact moment is unknown, or it doesn’t matter.  For example:

  • Los chicos iban al supermercado – The boys were going to the grocery store. 
  • Ella nunca iba a hacerlo – She was never going to do it. 

In both of these examples, the exact moment in the past isn’t specified – or doesn’t matter. So instead of the preterite, we’ll use the imperfect conjugation to express a lack of time specificity. 

Descriptions of the past

If you just want to give background information or describe how something was in the past, then you’ll put the verbs in the imperfect tense. 

  • Iba a la tienda cuando vi a Ángela – I was going to the store when I saw Ángela.
  • ¿No ibas a comprarle un regalo, primero? – Weren’t you going to buy them a present first?

In many cases like this, it’s common to have an interruption in the preterite tense come afterwards. This type of descriptive information requires the imperfect tense – and the action that comes after will be in the preterite.

Feel like you’re already a master at the imperfect tense? Make sure to check out our full guide on the Ir preterite tense and step up to the next level!

How to Use Ir in the Imperfect Tense

Now we’ve gone through some of the most common ways to use the imperfect tense in general, let’s look at even more examples of using the verb Ir in the imperfect tense.  

Practicing this verb form in context is vital! So make sure you check out as many examples like this as possible. 

We’ll use Ir in the imperfect to describe the past, talk about repeated actions in the past, and it’s commonly used to say you were “going to do X”. Let’s look at the examples:

Remember that you’ll need to say iba a if you want to express “going to …”

So let’s look at some examples:

  • Yo siempre iba al colegio a las 8 de la mañana – I always went to school at 8 in the morning. 
  • ¿No ibas a fregar los platos? – Weren’t you going to wash the dishes?
  • Ella iba hacia la estación del tren – She was going towards the train station
  • Nosotros íbamos a visitarla – We were going to visit her
  • Los vecinos iban a montar una fiesta – The neighbors were going to have a party


In all of these examples, you’ll use the imperfect tense for Ir because it’s describing either a person or an event in the past.

So there you go! Nothing special! Ir can be used just like any other verb in the imperfect tense.

Lots of Spanish verbs are a bit tricky to conjugate, but the imperfect tense is one of the easier forms. Image by Michał Parzuchowski via Unsplash

¿No ibas a estudiar más? 

A lot of verbs tend to be pretty tricky to conjugate – Ir is no exception. Luckily though, the imperfect tense is one of the easier forms. 

The conjugation seems difficult at first – but you’ll be able to master it in no time. And using Ir in the imperfect tense is even easier than conjugating it!

But the best way to make sure you become a pro at the language is by practicing.  So why not go ahead and sign up for a free private class or a 7-day free trial of our group classes so you can show us everything you learned?

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