J'arrivais à déchiffrer ... Je l'ouvrais avec impatience. Why imperfect ?

TomC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

J'arrivais à déchiffrer ... Je l'ouvrais avec impatience. Why imperfect ?

The narrator is recalling events that happened on only one occasion and instantaneously. Why does she use the imperfect?

Asked 6 months ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

It's the narrative imperfect. There's a good explanation here, but I don't know if this link will work for you:

https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Advanced_French_Grammar/QwijBEaBqtwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22narrative+imperfect%22&pg=PA123&printsec=frontcover

If not, try googling "narrative imperfect", "imparfait narratif", "imparfait historique" etc.

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Tom,

It seems to me that the narrator is recalling what they "used to do" and that is why the imparfait is appropriate?

This is my take on the text  --  hope you agree?

Jim

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I agree with Jim. The narrator is describing a habitual situation in the past, hence the imperfect tense.

TomC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

You would think so, but this is the story of the standout Christmas of her childhood, her vivid memory of catching sight of and tearing open the best present she ever got. It's almost the point of the tale that the events of that morning have no parallel in her memory.

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Tom,

I get your point, but what is going on in this person's mind is an enduring memory of a past event.

How would you want to express this?   Is it a completed action?  

I remain of the opinion that imparfait is appropriate - not for the reason that I first suggested (repeated past action - used to) but to deal with your very valid argument -- enduring memory.

It will be interesting to read the input of others here, but this is how I see it.

Bonne journée

Jim

TomC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you Jim. It seems your instinct is correct. I think Alan's link explains why.

Bonne journée !

Tom

J'arrivais à déchiffrer ... Je l'ouvrais avec impatience. Why imperfect ?

The narrator is recalling events that happened on only one occasion and instantaneously. Why does she use the imperfect?

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