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Imperfect tense query

 

Why does this sentence contain the imperfect tense? - El teatro tenía tres salidas. Why can't I say, El teatro tuvo tres salidas?


Many Thanks
Lawrence

For learning: Spanish
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Both sentences are possible, but there is a huge difference. As you said the sentence is imperfective since the place is likely to still have the doors. If I said "el teatro tuvo 3 puertas" (perfective aspect) it would mean that it had them in a time before, but not anymore.

    Ella tenía trabajo (she had work, and she probably still has it)
    Ella tuvo trabajo (she had work, but only during that peiod of time).

    There are nuances of the language in this structure that also have to do with how often things are done. The same is done in English with "would" in past.

    Cuando yo era pequeño, yo visité a mi padre (perfective aspect)
    When I was a child I visited my dad (probably only once of very few times)

    Cuando yo era pequeño, yo visitaba a mi padre (imperfective aspect)
    When I was a child I would visit my father (very often)

    Te llamé pero no me contestaste (perfective aspect)
    I called you but you did not answer

    Te llamé pero no me contestabas (imperfective aspect)
    I called you but you would not answer.

    (Very similar to the Russian perfective and imperfective aspects, only that in Spanish you can only do that in past).

    I hope this helps.

    The second isn`t good because tenia is used for plases or things. ex: Mi madre tenia una casa grande or El teatro tenia muchas luces and tuvo is used for something abstract like El tuvo mucho frio en el camino or El tuvo una vida maravillosa.
    I hope that my help served you

     

    El teatro tenía tres salidas >> They seem to be speaking about a characteristic of the theatre rather than about an event.
    We use the imperfect tense to describe things, people, places, situations, etc. in the past. The imperfect tense has other uses but this one (descriptions) is the esiest... in my opinion.

    If you mean that the theatre had 3 exits but now the theatre HASN'T those 3 exist ANYMORE, you can use "tuve", but if you are just talking about a theatre in the past tense, like for example, telling a comment about a theatre you went yesterday, and that theatre STILL HAVE those 3 exits, you can use "tenía".

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