GCSE French: The Imperfect Tense (L'imparfait)

Part 3, covers how to form the imperfect tense, when to use it and a few examples of how to use it. All colour coded and everything too :)

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  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 25-01-10 18:41
Preview of GCSE French: The Imperfect Tense (L'imparfait)

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The Imperfect Tense (L'imparfait)
Use: To talk about habitual actions (I went swimming every
Monday), actions that took place over an unspecified amount
of time (when I was young we lived in New York), for physical and
emotional descriptions (time, age, weather, feelings), for wishes
and suggestions (if I was rich), describes background / what
was happening generally (whereas le passé composé would
describe a sudden action)
It is often used with le passé composé but it's rather
different...although you should that already. It's a pretty damn
handy tense to be able to use ­ well, the more tenses you can use
correctly the more marks you can get.
The imperfect relies on you knowing the present tense pretty
damn well. Take the nous form of a verb, remove the ­ons, which
makes the imperfect stem, and then we add one of the happy
endings that I'm going to list in a moment.
I should first point out that the only verb not to follow this pattern
is être because the nous form of être doesn't contain ­ons. The
imperfect stem of être is therefore ét.
I'll list the endings before I demonstrate with a verb, because lets
face it ­ I can do what the hell I want in this word document ;)
Je ais
Tu ais
Il/Elle/On ait
Nous ions
Vous iez
Ils/Elles aient
Okay, we'll use manger because it's a nice enough verb. The nous
form of manger is mangeons. Remove the ­ons and we get the
stem, mange.
Now we can add our endings.

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Je + mange + ais = je mangeais
Tu + mange + ais = tu mangeais
Il + mange + ait = il mangeait
Nous + mange + ions = nous mangeions
Vous + mange + iez = vous mangeiez
Ils + mange + aient = ils mangeaient
See? Easy peasy. I'll go through it with être too. Just because I'm
bored.…read more


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