Conjugate être in the imperfect tense in French (L'Imparfait)

In L'Imparfait, almost all the verbs follow the same pattern of conjugation. See Conjugate regular verbs in the imperfect tense in French (L'Imparfait).

However (as usual!), the verb être (to be) is slightly irregular.

Conjugation of ÊTRE (to be) in L'Imparfait in French

j' étais
tu étais
il/elle/on était
nous étions
vous étiez
ils/elles étaient

Note that être has an irregular stem - ét- - followed by the regular endings in L'Imparfait.

Être in L'Imparfait is used in a variety of ways where we use very different tenses in English.

Here are some examples:

J'étais déjà mariée quand j'avais 20 ans.I was already married when I was 20.

Tu étais rayonnante pendant ta grossesse.You were beaming during your pregnancy.

C'était le plus beau jour de ma vie.It was the most beautiful day of my life.

Nous étions en vacances lorsqu'ils nous ont cambriolés.We were on holidays when they robbed us.

Vous étiez déjà amoureux à cette époque ?Were you already in love at that time?

Ils étaient meilleurs amis cette année-là.They were best friends that year.


When to use the French Imperfect Tense (L'Imparfait)

Expressing continuing action with the imperfect tense in French (L'Imparfait) 

Expressing past habits or repeated actions with the imperfect tense in French (L'Imparfait) 

Describing and expressing opinions with the imperfect tense in French (L'Imparfait)

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Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Vous étiez déjà amoureux à cette époque ?Were you already in love at that time?
Nous étions en vacances lorsqu'ils nous ont cambriolés.We were on holidays when they robbed us.
C'était le plus beau jour de ma vie.It was the most beautiful day of my life.
Quand elle était petite, ma sœur était la chouchoute de la maîtresse.When she was little, my sister was the [primary school] teacher's pet.
Tu étais rayonnante pendant ta grossesse.You were beaming during your pregnancy.
Ils étaient meilleurs amis cette année-là.They were best friends that year.
J'étais déjà mariée quand j'avais 20 ans.I was already married when I was 20.
Thinking...