Fui vs era in a practice sentence


In practice, I see “I was a happy child” is translated “eu fui uma criança feliz”. I want to say “eu era…” every time - what is the explanation for preferring fui here, please?

Olá, @marg64! In this case, we’re talking about a past event/state with some continuity to it (a state of happiness that might’ve lasted for your whole childhood). So, there is no strict preference between one and the other; it depends on how you want to express yourself. The difference between them is essentially of focus:

  • The simple past (Eu fui uma criança feliz) highlights that the event/state has clearly ended in the past, and you’re looking back on it with a distant outlook.
  • The imperfect (Eu era uma criança feliz) acknowledges that the event/state is in the past, but instead of a distant perspective, it takes you back to the time where that state was still current. It’s like when we try to recreate a past situation on our minds and visualize it in “real time” within that past setting. It’s why this is a commonly used tense in narrations.