Imparfait: The imperfect tense

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L'imparfait is the imperfect tense in French, and as many of you may know, it can be difficult to understand. This is why we have created a short French grammar lesson and free worksheets to help you tackle l'imparfait!
What is l'imparfait?

It is time for a short grammar lesson in French! Let me introduce you to the Imparfait. 

L’imparfait is the imperfect tense in French, but don’t fool yourself, this verb tense is far from being imperfect! 

To learn how to use l’imparfait and how to conjugate it in French, check our short l’imprfait lesson as well as our free exercises!

When to use l'imparfait:

You will use the imperfect tense in French when:

  •  describing something in the past
  •  talking about habits in the past 
  • or describing ongoing actions in the past. 
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How to use l'imparfait:

Hint: The simple past and the past progressive are the English equivalent of this verb tense.

To learn how to use the imperfect tense in French, you must be able to understand how different verbs work with this tense.  Most of the verbs in this tense fit into one of the three following categories. 

When using the Imparfait, it is important that you first find out in which group or category your verb belongs to. Then, you use the same endings as the model verbs in the chart below.

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How to conjugate l'imparfait:

Conjugating verbs ending in -er:

je aimais

tu aimais 

il/elle/on aimait

nous aimions

vous aimiez

ils/elles aimaient

Conjugating verbs ending in -ir:

je finissais

tu finissais

il/elle/on finissait

nous finissions

vous finissiez

ils/elles finissaient

Conjugating all other verbs:

je entendais

tu entendais

il/elle/on entendait

nous entendions

vous entendiez

ils/elles entendaient

Be careful!

Some verbs are irregular. Here is a list of some of them:

voir – voyais, voyais, voyait,  voyions, voyiez, voyaient 

être – étais, étais, était, étions, étiez, étaient

prendre – prenais, prenais, prenait, prenions, preniez, prenaient

faire – faisais, faisais, faisait, faisions, faisiez, faisaient 

boire – buvais, buvais, buvait, buvons, buviez, buvaient

dire – disais, disais, disait, disions, disiez, disaient 

 

 

1st group

Conjugating Verbs ending in –er

(nous aimons)

2nd group

Conjugating Verbs ending in –ir

(nous finissons)

3e group

(Conjugating all the other verbs)

 

Pronouns

aimer

finir

entendre

Je (I)

aimais

finissais

entendais

Tu (You)

aimais

finissais

entendais

Il (he) Elle (she)

On (we)

aimait

finissait

entendait

Nous (we)

aimions

finissions

entendions

Vous (you)

aimiez

finissiez

entendiez

Ils/ elles (they)

aimaient

finissaient

entendaient

Be careful!

Some verbs are irregular. Here is a list of some irregular verbs in the imperfect tense in French and how to conjugate them:

 Pronouns

voir

être

prendre

faire

boire

Dire

Je

voyais

étais

prenais

faisais

buvais

disais 

Tu

voyais

étais

prenais

faisais

buvais

disais

il/elle/on

voyait

était

prenait

faisait

buvait

disait

nous

voyions

étions

prenions

faisions

buvons

disions

vous 

voyiez

étiez

preniez

faisiez

buviez

disiez

ils/elles

voyaient

étaient

prenaient

faisaient

buvaient

disaient

It's Time to Practice! - Worksheets:

Now that you have learned how to use l’imparfait in French, here are some free French worksheets with French grammar exercises to practice it! These free French online resources are great to boost your skills and practice and improve your French grammar!

Worksheet 1

Worksheet 2

Worksheet 3

Pascale Tremblay

Pascale Tremblay

Pascale is a tutor and instructor at Brouillet Academy. She is a native French speaker with years of French Education experience.

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