GCSE French

The Imperfect Tense

When to use it: To describe what was happening or what used to happen at a certain time in the past.

How to form it: The starting point is to know the nous form of present tense verbs. e.g:
nous regardons, nous finissons , nous lisons , nous mangeons.

Remove the -ons from the nous form, so that you are left with a stem:
regard..., finiss..., lis..., mange....

Add the following endings to all imperfect verbs. e.g. je regardais:
je ... -ais
tu ... -ais
il/elle ... -ait
nous ... -ions
vous ... -iez
ils/elles ... -aient

There is only one exception! The imperfect stem of the verb être is ét-, used as in j'étais, etc.

Here are two expressions using imperfect verbs that are really useful:
cétait - it was
il y avait - there was / there were


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