Passé simple vs. Imparfait

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

2 replies

Passé simple vs. Imparfait

"During that time, I was very busy." is translated using le Passé simple. However, would not l'Imparfait be more appropriate here, given that it is a statement about a longer period of time? -- Chris.

This relates to:
Conjugate être in Le Passé Simple -

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

4 November 2016

4/11/16

Bonjour Chris ! I understand your point, and it makes perfect sense, but the use of Le Passé Simple here is still a correct option. It's all a question of point of view and the difficulty of the "être" cases. - If you said "Durant cette période, j'étais très occupé.", you are in effect considering that period in its duration, insisting on the length of time during which you 'were in the process of' being busy. - But if you said "Durant cette période, je fus très occupé." or indeed "Durant cette période, j'ai été très occupé." (as Le Passé Composé and Le Passé Simple have similar nuances), you are talking about an event (you being busy over that period) as one over and done, taking its place in a succession of other past events now ended. In short, both L'Imparfait or Le Passé Simple, even Le Passé Composé, could be acceptable in this sentence, depending on the focus you're choosing. I hope that this explanation makes the distinction a bit clearer :) Merci et à bientôt !

Chris

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2016

4/11/16

Thanks for the detailed explanation. I do understand that the proper translation depends on emphasis and context. It just didn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling having just learned that l'Imparfait is used for long durations. Thanks again, -- Chris.

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