I'm having difficulty discerning went use the imparfait vs the passé composé.

Ann

Kwiziq community member

5 January 2019

1 reply

I'm having difficulty discerning went use the imparfait vs the passé composé.

To me "I felt the nicotine withdrawal" was in the past with a definite end, so I used the passé composé. What reason is used to put it in the imparfait? Then alternately, "Fortunately, my wife never smoked" seemed like a habitual thing, so I used the imparfait. Why is that one in the passé composé?

This question relates to:
French writing exercise "Giving up smoking"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

6 January 2019

6/01/19

This is a topic that takes a while to wrap your head around. It is difficult to argue each and every case but there are some general rules that ought to cover 90% of the cases. I believe there are several exercises on kwiziq dedicated to that question.

One quick check is to see if you could use an English construction that carries a similar temporal feeling:

Je ressentais le sévrage à la nicotine. -- I used to feel (or: was feeling) nicotine withdrawal.J'ai ressenti le sévrage à la nicotine. -- I felt nicotine withdrawal.

The first sentence states a general state of being that something that went on over a longer period of time without a specific beginning or end. In the second example, using passé composé, it is a one time thing in the past.

Your answer

Login to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Think you've got all the answers?

Test your French to the CEFR standard

find your French level »
3642questions7577answers139,477users
Getting that for you now.