Imparfait / Imperfect Tense in French

Imparfait in French

A tense expressing a length or a repeated action in the past which beginning and end are not known.

  • The Imparfait translates the English expressions:
  • Used to: when I was young I used to visit my grandmother
  • Was verb+ing: I was doing
  • He had just come: il venait d’arriver
  • A wish or a condition, after the word “if”: If I had a car: si j’avais une voiture
  • Time: It was midnight: il était minuit / when I was young: quand j’étais jeune
  • How about and what about: What about going to the cinema: et si nous allions au cinema.

How to form the Imparfait.

Any verb at the present tense, use the “we form”, you drop the end of the verb, keep the first part and add the imperfect ending:

To dance: danser
The we form is “we dance”: nous dansons

You drop the end “ons”

You keep the first part “dans”

You add the imperfect ending:

Je dans-ais

tu dans-ais

Il dans-ait

Nous dans-ions

Vous dans-iez

Ils dans-aient

To finish : finir
The we form at the present tense is ” we finish ” : nous finissons

You drop the end “ons” and keep the firt part “finiss”

You add the imperfect ending:

Je finissais

Tu finissais

Il finissait

Nous finissions

Vous finissiez

Ils finissaient

Some irregular verbs :

To be : être

Tu étais

Il était

Nous étions

Vous étiez

Ils étaient

To study : étudier


Tu étudiais

Il étudiait

Nous étudiions

Vous étudiiez

Ils étudiaient

To eat : manger
Je mangeais

Tu mangeais

Il mangeait

Nous mangions

Vous mangiez

Ils mangeaient

The ” e ” is for the pronunciation because the sound ” ga ” in French is like ” GArage “, but here it is soft like the end of ” garaGE “

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13 thoughts on “Imparfait / Imperfect Tense in French

  1. Sabina

    i am in university and taking an intermidiate french course, this is great! Very helpful to go over :) just the way it was explained to me. Thanks

  2. Justin Bieber

    Dude, you don’t know how much this helped me ! Although i speak French fluently (’cause my grandparents are from there),it gets kinda confusing at times. And this REALLY helped me. Thanks man.

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