In the sentence below, I used l'imparfait of pouvoir (pouvait) rather than the passé composé. I would have thought l'imparfait was appropriate as it describes actions that were repeated in the past i.e. they organised meetings that were repeated over a period of time.
Can someone please explain why the passé composé is used here? Choosing when to use l'imparfait or le passé composé does not seem to get any easier!
Du coup, leur petit groupe a pu organiser des rencontres quotidiennes, ce qui les a aidées à garder le moral.
Freeform Writing Exercise B2
In this case, the meetings were repeated, but ‘organising’ these recurring meetings is being portrayed as a time-limited specific event. Consider ‘organising’ by simply adding a recurring meeting into a calendar for example - the meetings go on, but the ‘organising’ is finished.
Among other articles, I found this discussion by Camille to be very useful in getting a better feel for the everyday use of passé composé or imparfait. It may also help to remember that in everyday speech, passé composé is the most common past tense used, notwithstanding that the commonly encountered verb ‘être’ is usually in imparfait in past tense.
As yourself: in English, would you say "their small group was being able to organize..." or "was able to organize..."? If you're not using the continuous past in English ("was being able to") it's a good indication that you won't be using imperfect in French either. This isn't a hard and fast rule but it's probably a better rule than most others.
Sign in to submit your answer
Don't have an account yet? Join today
Test your French to the CEFR standard