This well-known lesson concentrates on the use and also differences of Passé-Composé vs Imparfait in the French language, with numerous examples and explanations + videos


Understanding as soon as to use passé composé versus imparfait is probably one the the most an overwhelming things because that an English speaker, because you cannot translate literally native English.

You are watching: I was in french

Passé composé vs imparfait is largely a inquiry of details event vs background or ongoing event.

Imagine 2 pictures: a take self vs a large angleshot.


1 – What is the French Imperfect Tense?

The French imperfect is a French tense used for the past. It’s referred to as l’imparfait in French.

The imperfect French tense describes actions that were continuous or repetitive in the past: quand j’étais enfant, tous les étés, nous allions en Provence – when I was a child, every summer we visited ProvenceClick to Tweet

The imparfait is a great French tense due to the fact that it is really regular. Most of the time, if you have actually a past gradual tense, so a verb + ING in English like in “I to be speaking”, you have the right to translate this past progressive into imparfait.

However, the imperfect can also correspond to the Englishsimple pasttense choose in mine example over “I was, we went”, but additionally to expressions such as‘used to’. In some situations, once you usage “would” in English, we would use the imparfait in French…

Weconjugatethe imperfect in French by including the endings-ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iezand –aientto the source of the existing tensenousform that the verb.

Je parlais, nous étudiions, ils choisissaient, elles allaient…

2 – What is the French Passé Composé?

Thepassé composé is a French tense supplied for the past. The passé composé synchronizes mostly come theEnglish an easy pastor thepresent perfect.

The passé composé describes particular actions that were completed in the past : Dans ma jeunesse, une fois, je suis allée au Canada – In mine youth, once, I’ve to be to Canada.Click to Tweet

In spoken French language, thepassé composéis constantly used rather of thepassé simple.

We conjugate thepassé composéusing the assistant verbsavoir or êtrefollowed through thepast participle(le participe passé) the the verb.

J’ai parlé, nous avons étudié, ils ont choisi, elles sont allées…

You might be interested in my cost-free audio guide about the French auxiliary verb être: conjugations and also pronunciation.

Now the large question because that French students is as soon as to use Passé Composé vs Imparfait. That’s what ns am walking to describe in this article.

3 – girlfriend Cannot translate Imparfait or Passé Composé Literally

“I was singing” or verbs in past progressive are walk to it is in imperfect. For those, you have the right to rely on translate into 90% of the time.

The difficulty is “I sang” or verb in the English perfect tense… They have the right to be interpreted as “je chantais” or “j’ai chanté”: it is the rest of the sentence the tells, so there is no method you deserve to just translate.

You need to know why we usage which tense: the paper definition determines the tense.

4 – Passé Composé vs Imparfait Shortcut

I suggest you find out by heart the 2 sentence below.

Don’t think in hatchet of actions: actions deserve to be in both pc or imperfect.

Passé composé = what took ar at that very moment: a details event or a sequence of specific events, the main storyline – picture a selfieClick to Tweet

Imparfait = what was happening all around you (including you), background. Additionally ongoing events, habits, what provided to it is in – photo a vast angle shotClick come TweetNow let’s be an ext specific about Passé Composé vs Imparfait

5 – Passé composé vs Imparfait – detailed Explanations + Examples

A – Story telling

What French past tense have to you determined when you space telling a story?

Passé composé

The passé composé describes actions the constitute the storyline. It speak the collection of specific events the took place.

Imagine that you are taking a take self portrait: the camera zooms ~ above you and shows what you space doing particularly at that an extremely moment. You are the just important part of the picture. The elevator is blurred.


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7 – Passé Composé list of Expressions

Some expressions of time tend to be followed by the Passé Composé due to the fact that they usually introduce certain events.

Expressions USUALLY followed by passé composé: d’abord, premièrement – first /depuis, ensuite – climate /enfin, finalement – lastly /soudain – all of sudden /tout à coup – all of a suddenly /tout de suite – best awayClick to Tweet

Again, this is not set in stone. It’s not the expression that dictates the use of Imparfait or Passé-Composé; that the context.

8 – Imparfait vs Passé-composé Practice

When it pertains to understanding imparfait vs passé-composé, over there is the theory and also then the practice.

It’s time to practice! Below, ns will offer you some examples and even videos special imparfait vs passé-composé.

Imparfait vs passé-composé is explained plainly in mine French audiobook method.

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Understand exactly how you build and when to usage the time form of the past and future in French matches English. Clearly the secrets of Passé Composé matches Imparfait, the elusive “On” and also more. Reinforce every these ideas in the paper definition of an ongoing story taped at 2 different levels that enunciation (enunciated & modern). Q & A ar will attract you to exercise out loud what did you do it learned and also improve your confidence when handling conversations.