Part I: writing fui and fue
I have not written any entries on this blog for a while. A long while--sorry. This doesn't mean that I have not received questions from students, former students, and friends. One of the most common questions is the title of this post. Fui and Fue are very similar and confusing for English speakers. Let me know if the following explanation helps you remember how to write these words.
Fui and fue, or fue and fui, are different and similar. They’re both forms of the verbs "ser" (to be) and "ir" (to go) in the simple past tense. This is the complete conjugation:
singular: yo fui, tú fuiste, usted fue, él fue, ella fue
plural: nosotros fuimos, vosotros fuisteis, ustedes fueron, ellos fueron, ellas fueron
One of the problems is that “i” and “e” may have the same sound in English, but the sound is different in Spanish. Remember,
fui = sounds like foo-ee
…with emphasis on “ee;” in fact, in the past, the word “fui” had a written accent over the “i:” fuí.
fue = sounds like foo-eh …with emphasis on “eh.”
Think that the “i” on “fui” is the same as “I” (yo) and the “e” on “fue” is the “e” of “él” and “ella.”
I was / I went
usted fue, él fue, ella fue
you (formal) were/went, he were/went, she were/went
Perhaps the best way to remember the difference between fui and fue is that "I" (yo" goes with "i" (fui), and other people go with "e" (fue), or that all the singular, Spanish pronouns that have an "e" somewhere, goo "fue." This is not a rule, but it may help you to write "fue" and "fui" correctly.