French Imperfect Endings

l’imparfait

PARLER TO SPEAK
je parlais
tu parlais
il/elle parlait
nous parlions
vous parliez
ils/elles parlaient
FINIR TO FINISH
je finissais
tu finissais
il/elle finissait
nous finissions
vous finissiez
ils/elles finissaient
VENDRE TO SELL
je vendais
tu vendais
il/elle vendait
nous vendions
vous vendiez
ils/elles vendaient
NAGER TO SWIM
je nageais
tu nageais
il/elle nageait
nous nagions
vous nagiez
ils/elles nageaient
PRONONCER TO PRONOUNCE
je prononçais
tu prononçais
il prononçait
nous prononcions
vous prononciez
ils prononçaient
ÊTRE TO BE
j'étais
tu étais
il était
nous étions
vous étiez
ils étaient

While French uses the passé composé to describe specific actions that occurred in the past, the imperfect tense is used to describe ongoing, continuous, repeated and habitual actions from the past. The imparfait is the “used to” tense. It’s also used to describe backgrounds for stories and events.

To form the imparfait take the nous form of the verb in the present tense. Take off the -ons and add the following endings to the stem: -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, iez, -aient.

Note that for verbs with spelling changes in the nous form in the present tense such as nager and prononcer, the spelling changes are carried over to the imperfect for all forms starting with -a.

Also note that the verb etre is the only verb in French with an irregular imperfect stem of ét + ending.

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