The imperfect tense in French

The imperfect tense is, along with the passé composé, one of the main past tenses in French.

How to use the imperfect tense in French?

Imparfait is use to:
-describe past habits
-talking about memories
-Expressing an action in the background when used with the passé composé.

How is the imperfect tense formed?

The imperfect tense is formed from the base of the verb in the present 2nd person plural (“you” form).
For example for the verb “avoir”.
In the present tense: vous avez

The present tense ending is replaced by the following endings:
ais, ais, ait, ions, iez, aient.

The verb “avoir” in the imperfect tense therefore becomes:


tu avais

il avait

nous avions

vous aviez

ils avaient

Let’s look at some examples:

Describe past habits:

Quand j’habitais à Paris je buvais du vin tous les jours
When I lived in Paris I drank wine every day

Talking about memories:
Quand j’étais jeune, je faisais du tennis

When I was young, I played tennis

With the passé composé:

J’étudiais le français quand tu m’as téléphoné.
I was studying French when you called me.

You can check my explanation in video, and contact me for a private lesson

*(the video will not be available forever, it will later be part of a paid grammar course.)

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