Authentic Spanish Songs for Teaching Preterite and Imperfect

by | Mar 15, 2019

Inside: Spanish songs for teaching Spanish 2 classes, with an emphasis on the preterite and the imperfect.


Who else loves teaching through music? It’s one of my favorite parts of being a Spanish teacher. 40 Authentic Songs for Spanish I has consistently been one of my top hits. I figure it’s time for Spanish 2 to get some love! Here are 30 authentic Spanish songs with preterite and imperfect verbs throughout the lyrics.

Of course, the content of Spanish 2 varies. In my classes, I look for lots of input in the past tense as we’re looking to communicate about past events. Our music, stories, and novels are preterite and imperfect-heavy, and I use many of the songs from this list. Let me know if I missed any of your favorites, or should be aware of lyrics or parts of videos I may have missed! Always, always, preview of course. 

Check out my other posts on music if you are wondering how to teach Spanish through authentic songs, or want to browse my collection of Songs in Spanish by theme and category.


Songs for Teaching Spanish 2 Classes


This post contains songs featuring mainly preterite verbs, mainly imperfect verbs, and then a mix of both tenses. You can browse the whole list, use the Spotify list, or jump directly to the section you need:

If you want activities to go with the songs here, I have an activity pack with some of the songs featured in this post:


Spanish Songs for Teaching the Preterite


Here are my picks for songs with lots of repetitions of preterite verbs in Spanish. You’ll notice that most of them have romantic themes, especially break-up undercurrents– it’s been really hard to find past-tense songs with any other theme! 


1. Fuiste Tú – Gaby Moreno y Ricardo Arjona


Lots of reps of fuiste, complete with gorgeous scenes of Guatemala.


2. Consejo de Amor – TINI, ft. Morat


Reps of pude, robó, pensé, se escapó, llegó, pasó, in the chorus, with more preterit verbs throughout the song. Even though it’s a broken-heart song, the music and video are upbeat and catchy.


3. Un Año – Sebastián Yatra, Reik


This catchy song is lighter on preterite verbs, but highly comprehensible and has fueron in the chorus, with some other preterite verbs sprinkled around the song. It also reviews several seasons and months, and present-tense phrases, and might be a good to use at the beginning of Spanish 2, as you welcome students back and ease them into class with some new past tense verbs!


4. Ayer – Gloria Estefan


This classic is a good choice to exposing your students to a famous Latina singer, with good reps of tú and yo preterit verbs as well. 


4. Corazón en la Maleta – Luis Fonsi


 Another break-up song from the now world-famous Luis Fonsi,  this song has tons of preterit yo reps, especially the phrase me fui. The original video shows alcohol and some romance I wouldn’t show, so I recommend this video or the lyric video with the original music.


5. La Selva Negra – Maná


With mostly 3rd-person preterit reps (lots of ¿Qué pasó?), this classic from Maná has themes of environmentalism and a different sound than most of the sounds on this list. 


6. Nada Fue Un Error – Coti, Julieta Venegas, Paulina Rubio


This is a comprehensible, repetitive song with lots of fue reps. 


7. Amor Con Hielo – Morat


Yet another break-up song, but this it has a good mix of Spanish preterite verbs (1st, 2nd, and 3rd person) and is really catchy too. If you paint it as an anti-love song, your students might have lots of fun with the lyrics. 


8. La Historia de Juan – Juanes


Told in something like a story format, this is a sad but famous song that deals with childhood poverty and social justice. The lyrics contain lots of 3rd-person repetitions, along with direct object pronouns. 


9. Reggaéton Lento – CNCO


If your students love some reggaetón, here’s one from the hugely popular band CNCO that includes tons of preterite in the chorus (la miré, me gustó, la invité, me pegué). The lyrics are fairly sensual, so read through them thoroughly before seeing if it works in your setting, though the video itself is super clean. 


10. Bachata en Fukuoka – Juan Luis Guerra


This bachata has lots of regular preterit verbs- viajé, canté, pintó, caminé, escapó, enseño, llegó, etc. 


11. Ella Es Mi Fiesta – Carlos Vives, ft. Maluma


Carlos Vives does a little storytelling-singing with this tale of falling in love, that also includes lots of past, especially fue, fui, and conocí. The song is fast and super upbeat, so you may need to slow the audio on YouTube if you do a listening activity. There are two videos below– one featuring Maluma and one with just Carlos Vives. 


12. Todo Cambió – Camila


If you don’t mind a super-sentimental ballad, Camila has lots of tú and yo reps in the preterit, plus vi and di in this slow song (helpful for listening activities!). 


 13. La Gozadera – Gente de Zona, Marc Antony


This has been a super-popular song across Spanish classrooms, with its scenes featuring Latin American flags and people from all over (though be sure to preview for the dancing). You’ll find lots of 3rd-person preterit in the lyrics. 


 14. Ya No Sé Que Hacer Conmigo – El Cuarteto de Nos


I hesitate to include this one since it’s fairly negative and includes not-for-school phrase like “fumé, tomé. However, it’s always comes recommend by teachers in Spanish groups, with tons of reps of first-person preterite, and so I’m sharing in case someone can use it. 


 15. No Tuve La Culpa – ChocQuibTown


I know it’s another break-up song, but I love to find songs that feature female artists, and this is a great one features a ton of verbs in the tú y yo form. 


Spanish Songs for Teaching the Imperfect



1. Los Caminos de La Vida – Los Diablitos


A gorgeous classic, this one is full of imperfect verbs in the chorus.


 2. Soy El Mismo – Prince Royce


So many imperfect verbs here: hablaba, llamaba, escribía, pintaba, daba, salía, robaba. Really good examples of talking about habitual past actions and characteristics. 


 3. Puerto Rico – Jerry Rivera


Scenes of Puerto Rico and examples of talking about one’s childhood. 


 4. El Perdón – Enrique Iglesias y Nicky Jam


Lots of examples of estaba + ando, iendo (beware the “tomando como un loco” line).


 5. Tarde Para Cambiar – Amaral



 6. El Barco Chiquitito-Traditional Children’s Song




Spanish Songs with Preterite and Imperfect Together



 1. Llegaste Tú – Jesse y Joy


This is a really good song with lots of opportunities to contrast the two tenses side by side. 



 2. En El Muelle de San Blas – Maná


Another good chance to compare the tense, I like using this song because it tells an interesting story, told in Mexico, and has lots of classroom possibilities. 



 3. Desde El Día En Que Te Fuiste – ChocQuibTown


Ok, so the official music video for this song is not school-friendly. Personally, I try not to use songs that I wouldn’t want them looking up at home in case it looks school-endorsed. However– if you are good showing lyric videos in school, this is a great song your classes will love, with awesome examples of preterite and imperfect. 



 5. El Amor Que Perdimos – Prince Royce


A popular song, the romantic themes may or may not work for your classroom– be sure to preview. 



 6. Piso 21 – Te Vi


I would NOT use the original video in class (and the lyrics are a little sensual), but this one is super-catchy and packed with 1st-person preterit verbs (seriously– your students will never forget the phrase te vi after just a few listens!). 


 7. Sofia – Alvaro Soler


Although this song isn’t as packed with preterite and imperfect, it is really catchy and the lyrics are easy to understand. (The dancing in the music video is really fun, but does contain a lot of belly- be sure to preview!).



 8. ¿Qué Hiciste? – Jennifer Lopez


There is SO MUCH preterite and lots of imperfect in this emotion-packed break-up song! 



 9. Tu Mirada – Reik


This song has a clear contrast of the preterite and imperfect, with an example of giving background information, followed by specific, completed action. 



What other Spanish songs with preterite and imperfect do you like? Leave your recommendations in the comment section!

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Spanish songs for teaching Spanish 2


Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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