Conjugate regular verbs in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense)

In L'Imparfait, MOST verbs follow the same pattern of conjugation (EXCEPT for être - Conjugate être in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense))

Look at these examples of verbs in L'Imparfait:

Je faisais un château de sable.
I was making a sandcastle.

Tu chantais à l'école?
Were you singing at school?

Elle avait un chien.
She had a dog.

Nous parlions français ensemble.
We used to speak French together.

Vous choisissiez votre maison.
You were choosing your house.

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

The Imperfect tense (L'Imparfait) is very easy to conjugate as most verbs, regular and irregular conjugate the same way.

Take the Présent 'nous' form of the verb and drop the -ons ending and add these endings:

je / j' -ais
tu -ais
il/elle/on -ait
nous -ions
vous -iez
ils/elles -aient


E.g. faire: nous faisons (we are doing) -> je faisais

Notice L'imparfait is used in a variety of ways where we use very different tenses in English!

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

Expressing continuing action in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense) 

Expressing habits or repeated actions in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense) 

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

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources





avoir


Elle avait un chien.
She had a dog.


chanter


Tu chantais à l'école?
Were you singing at school?


choisir


Vous choisissiez votre maison.
You were choosing your house.


faire


Je faisais un château de sable.
I was making a sandcastle.


Nous faisions du sport.
We used to do sport.


finir


Il finissait son repas.
He was finishing his meal.


parler


Nous parlions français ensemble.
We used to speak French together.


Q&A

Anna

Kwiziq community member

28 July 2018

9 replies

“We we’re driving...” Nous conduisions or Nous étions conduire? Merci!

Were not we’re 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 July 2018

29/07/18

It is -

Nous conduisions .

Anna

Kwiziq community member

29 July 2018

29/07/18

Merci, Cécile. Why not nous étions conduire?  This is a new level for me. I’ve re-read the related lessons but I’m still missing it. I feel like it’s staring me in the face but I’m not seeing it. Thanks in advance for helping me see my error. 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 July 2018

29/07/18

Nous étions conduire doesn't mean anything. It is a literal translation from English which simply has nomparallel in French. 

-- Chris. 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 July 2018

29/07/18

Nous étions conduire doesn't mean anything. It is a literal translation from English which simply has nomparallel in French. 

-- Chris. 

Anna

Kwiziq community member

29 July 2018

29/07/18

Mais no! :-) 

if it means nothing, then why does it show up in https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/conjugate-etre-in-l-imparfait-imperfect-tense?

Merci

Anna

Kwiziq community member

29 July 2018

29/07/18

By “it” I mean nous étions.  Why, grammatically, is it incorrect to use it in “ we were driving”? Isn’t one use of l’imparfait yo express continuing action in the past?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

Nous étions -- We were.

Nous conduisons. -- We drive / we are driving. 

Nous conduisions. -- We were driving / we used to drive. 

Nous avions conduit -- We had driven / we had been driving. 

Nous avons conduit. -- We drove. 

Grammatically, you never use the infinitive (conduire) after an auxiliary verb (être) in a compound tense. 

Also, the English continuous form (-ing form) does not have a one-to-one correspondence in French. 

-- Chris. 

Anna

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

Thank you SO much.  That’s what I needed!

Anna

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

And also I just realized I was mistaken in using être as the auxiliary.  I was thinking of driving as a coming/going verb. Thank you again. 

Lea

Kwiziq community member

6 July 2016

2 replies

the verb sourire has an irregular spelling in l'imparfait. Can you explicate this? Thank you, Lea

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

7 July 2016

7/07/16

Bonjour Lea !

The verb "sourire" does follow the rule of that lesson:
the Présent form for "nous" is: nous sourions

So if we follow the rule, the stem for l'Imparfait will be  souri-
E.g. je souriais, tu souriais, il souriait, nous souriions, vous souriiez, ils souriaient

I hope that's helpful!

À bientôt !

William

Kwiziq community member

20 March 2017

20/03/17

Except for etre, faire and dire. In the Michel Thomas Series he said: Except for être (vous êtes) , faire (vous faites) and dire (vous dites), the "sound" of the first person singular (imperfect) always follows the "sound" of the 2nd person plural of the present tense. vous avez (j'avais), vous parlez (je parlais), vous devez (je devais), vous voulez (je voulais) etc. Go to online conjugator @ http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-french-verb-pouvoir.html and check for yourself.
Clever stuff underway!