Used to or was doing something...

KatieA2Kwiziq community member

Used to or was doing something...

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Katie,

yes, the Imparfait can express habits in the past or describe the setting of an event which happened in the past.

Le dimanche je visitais le musée. 
-- Sundays I used to visit the museum.

Je visitais le musée quand j'ai rencontré Marie. 
-- I was visiting the museum when I met Marie.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Katie !

In French, you have mainly 2 past tenses : L' Imparfait and Le Passé Composé.
We don't have a Continuous past, equivalent to "was doing", so we will use L'Imparfait instead.

It's also L'Imparfait that we use when talking about repeated actions in the past, hence being equivalent to "used to" in certain cases.

Here are links to our related lessons:

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/l-imparfait-usage-expressing-continuing-action-in-the-past-imperfect-tense

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/l-imparfait-usage-expressing-habits-or-repeated-actions-in-the-past-imperfect-tense

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/l-imparfait-usage-describing-and-expressing-opinions-in-the-past-imperfect-tense

I hope that's helpful!

Bonne journée ! 

KatieA2Kwiziq community member
Sorry, my full question didn't post. Used to or was doing something... Is imparfait more of "I used to do something" or storytelling "I was doing something" ? The examples on this lesson use "I used to..." but on another imparfait lesson they use "was doing." Je mangeais des pâtes. I used to eat pasta. Could the translation also be "I was eating pasta" ? An example on another lesson for l'imparfait is: Je faisais un château de sable. I was making a sandcastle. Based on the examples on this page- the translation for could also be "I used to make sandcastle(s)" Help!

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