When to use the imperfect (past tense):
Actions that were repeated habitually
1. Almorzábamos juntos (todos los días).
We would eat lunch together (everyday).
2. Las señoras (siempre) charlaban por las mañanas.
The ladies would (always) chat in the room in the mornings.
Actions that "set the stage" for another action.
1. (Yo) leía "cuando" entró mi mamá.
I was reading "when" my mom entered.
Telling time and stating one's age.
1. Eran las siete de la noche.
It was 7 o'clock at night.
2. La niña tenía cinco años.
The little girl was 5 years old.
*General Rule: The imperfect tense is used for past actions that are seen as incomplete.*