The Imperfect Tense

The Imperfect Tense:

When to use it

How to form it

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  • Created by: Vixxx92
  • Created on: 21-05-11 10:17

The Imperfect Tense - Background

This tense is used where there is no indication of the start or finish of an action

We do not know if the action was finished or not.

This is the reason it is called the imperfect tense - it is incomplete

You use it to set the background of what happened in the past (whereas you use tenses like the perfect tense to say what actually happened)

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When do you use the Imperfect Tense?

It has 3 main uses:

To indicate what used to happen, habitual/repeated actions

  • Avant le tunnel on mettait plus longtemps pour arriver a Paris. Before the tunnel it took/used to take longer to get to Paris.

To describe a situation in the past

  • La ville n'etait pas aussi grande qu'aujourd'hui. The town was not as big as it is today.
  • La maison sentaient. The house smelt.

To say what was happening at a particular time

  • Je parlais au telephone (quand...) I was talking on the phone (when...)
  • Elle faisait du cafe (quand...) She was making some coffee (when...)
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How do you form the imperfect tense? Regular.

The stem is the same as the nous form of the present tense without the ons.

The endings are always the same: ais / ais/ ait / ions / iez / aient


So, conjugate these (answers next slide - no cheating!)

Donner, Remplir and Vendre

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How do you form the Imperfect Tense? Regular (Answ

Donner (to give):

Je donnais, Tu donnais, Elle donnait, Nous donnions, Vous donniez, Ils donnaient

Remplir (to fill):

Je remplissais, Tu remplissais, Il, remplissait, Nous remplissions, Vous remplissiez, Ils remplissaient.

Vendre (to sell):

Je vendais, Tu vendais, Il vendait, Nous vendions, Vous vendiez, Ils vendaient

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How do you form the Imperfect Tense? Irregular Ver

Happily, irregular verbs in this case (for once) follow the pattern!

Avoir - avais, avais, avait, avions, aviez, avaient

Aller - allais, allais, allait, allions, alliez, alliaient

Faire - faisais, faisais, faisait, faisions, faisiez, faisaient

Savoir - savais, savais, savait, savions, saviez, savaient

That is, all of them except for etre. Sommes wouldn't work, so the stem is et:

Etre - etais, etais, etait, etions, etiez, etaient

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