Describes conditions that were taking place when another action occurred; used to describe habitual actions or occurrences; used to describe the past.

Present indicative nous stem + (-ais; -ais; -ait; -ions; -iez; aient)

Les gens venaient me voir. Il y avait des gens que je ne connaissais pas.

Exception: tre


Nous tions

Tu tais

Vous tiez

Il tait

Ils taient

Pass Compos vs. Imparfait

What happened? = pass compos

What was going on? = imparfait

Using pass compos

Used to describe:

Completed action (has obvious beginning and end)

Heir soir, jai pris mon dner, jai fait la vaisselle et jai fini mes devoirs.

Changes in state of being

I was hiking in the mountains and became scared after seeing a bear Jai eu peur. (I was scared/got scared); Jai t terrifi (I was terrified/I became terrified)

Using the imparfait

Used to describe:

Ongoing past activities with unclear endings; often interrupted by shorter actions in the pass compos

Hier soir, je regardais un match de football la tl quand le tlphone a sonn.

Habitual or repeated events in the past. These verbs tend to be translated to used to or would.

Quand jtais jeune, on allait la plage chaque t.

States of being. Often tre and avoir are used.

Pass compos indicators: hier, une fois, tout coup

Imparfait indicators: souvent, tous les jours, toutes les semaines, chaque anne, en general


-Used to describe something that already happened before something else took place in the past


- Imparfait of auxiliary verb (tre or avoir) + past participle (main verb)

Quand il est arrive la fte, ses amis taient dj partis.

Auxiliary Verb

Formed in imparfait

House of tre verbs take tre as the auxiliary verb

For negated sentences, just the auxiliary verb is negated.

Past Participle

If conjugated with tre, the past participle agrees in gender and number with the subject.

If conjugated with avoir, the past participle agrees in gender and number if theres a preceding direct object.

Elle mavait habille et coiffe.

Past Infinitive

Except for en, infinitives are used after prepositions. Following aprs, a past infinitive must be used.

Aprs avoir chant, il a mange le poulet.

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