The imperfect tense is formed from the stem of the 2nd person plural nous form of the present tense and the following endings:
*the verb être is the only exception to this pattern
-The example in the table above shows how to conjugate the verb jeter- to throw. Firstly, it shows the verb in the 2nd person plural nous form – jetons, then it combines the stem from this form – jet, with the appropriate endings.
- It also shows the only exception to this pattern, the verb être – to be.
With -cer verbs, the cedilla is dropped in the nous and vous forms of the imperfect tense
With -ger verbs, no extra ‘e’ is added in the nous and vous forms of the imperfect tense
Usage of the Imperfect Tense
The imperfect tense describes:
- A state of affairs or state of mind in the past
e.g. La mer était calme pour la première fois, which means , The sea was calm for the first time.
- An action presented as a background to another event in the past
e.g. Pendant que tu dormais, je me suis promené dans le jardin, which means , While you were sleeping, i walked in the garden.
- A habitual action in the past:
e.g. Quand Michelle était une adolescente, elle sortait souvent avec des amis, which means , When Michelle was a teenager, she often went out with friends.
Usage with the conjunction ‘si’
The imperfect tense is used after si when:
- The main verb is in the conditional tense
e.g. Si j’étais riche, je ferais construire une grande piscine derrière ma maison, which means , If i were rich, I would build a big pool behind my house.
- Making a suggestion
e.g. Si on allait au cinéma ce soir , which means , If we went to the movies tonight.