1. Education

Imperfect - French Past Tense

How to conjugate the imperfect

By

French imperfect conjugations are very easy, as the imperfect of virtually all verbs—regular and irregular—is formed the same way: drop the -ons ending from the present indicative nous form of the verb and adding the imperfect endings.

Être is the only irregular verb in the imperfect, because the present tense nous sommes has no -ons to drop. So it has the irregular stem ét- and uses the same endings as all other verbs.

As in many other tenses, spelling change verbs, that is, verb which end in -cer and -ger, have minor spelling changes in the imperfect.

Verbs that end in -ier have an imperfect root that ends in i, so end with double i in the nous and vous form of the imperfect. This isn't irregular, but it looks kind of weird.


French imperfect conjugations

Here are the imperfect endings and conjugations for the regular verbs parler (to speak) and finir (to finish), the -ier verb étudier (to study), the spelling change verb manger (to eat), and the irregular verb être (to be):
 
PronounEndingparler
> parl-
finir
> finiss-
étudier
> étudi-
manger
> mange-
être
> ét-
 je (j') -aisparlaisfinissaisétudiaismangeaisétais
 tu -aisparlaisfinissaisétudiaismangeaisétais
 il -aitparlaitfinissaitétudiaitmangeaitétait
 nous -ionsparlionsfinissionsétudiionsmangionsétions
 vous -iezparliezfinissiezétudiiezmangiezétiez
 ils -aient parlaient finissaient étudiaient mangeaient étaient
Related Video
French Dialogues: Directions
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. French Language
  4. French Grammar
  5. Verbs
  6. Verb Tense, Mood, Voice
  7. Past and Perfect Tenses
  8. Imperfect - French Past Tense

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.