verb tenses

JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

verb tenses

 Du coup, j'ai pu admirer ses amygdales

comme il mâchait la bouche ouverte

I'm wondering why the 2 different verb tenses here.  One act (of seeing) is related to the other act (of chewing) but 2 different tenses were used. 

Asked 6 months ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Jennifer,

In this instance, L’Imparfait is used to set a description of an ongoing action (‘il mâchait' ; chewing) whilst Le Passé Composé is used to express an interruption ('j’ai pu admirer …' ; watching) of the ongoing action (chewing).

Please see this link on Le Passé Composé with L’Imparfait, where it explain this particular use of both tenses.

I hope this is helpful.

Bonne journée!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

To give you a better sense of the distinction, look at how English differentiates in this case: "I could see his tonsils while he was chewing." The continuous (-ing) form in the second half tells you that this process was ongoing as the first one (simple past) happened. In French you use the imparfait vs. passé composé to make the same distinction.

TomC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thanks for the clarification, I had the same question.

verb tenses

 Du coup, j'ai pu admirer ses amygdales

comme il mâchait la bouche ouverte

I'm wondering why the 2 different verb tenses here.  One act (of seeing) is related to the other act (of chewing) but 2 different tenses were used. 

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Ask a question

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

Find your French level
Getting that for you now...