French Imparfait

French Imparfait

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Added by November 29, 2017


Learn to Conjugate French Verbs in the Imperfect

L’IMPARFAIT is a past tense that refers to actions that lasted in the past, that repeated themselves in the past. It is also used for descriptions in the past. It basically allows to set the background of a narrative – but the narrative will be told in another past tense. But I’m not going to get into the difference between the PASSÉ COMPOSÉ and the IMPARFAIT here since I have already posted a video lesson on that.

So let’s just focus on how to conjugate a French verb in the imperfect, À L’IMPARFAIT.

Imparfait: French past tense

Source: Pixabay

It’s pretty simple if you already master the conjugations of all your French verbs in the present tense. All you need to do is : take the « nous » form of a verb in the present of the indicative, drop the -ONS ending, keep the stem of the verb, add the following endings :


Let’s try that with a couple of examples.


AIMER                                                 PRENDRE

J’aimAIS                                             Je  prenAIS

Tu aimAIS                                           Tu prenAIS

Il/elle/on aimAIT                                 Il/elle on prenAIT

Nous aimIONS                                   Nous prenIONS

Vous aimIEZ                                       Vous prenIEZ

Ils/elles aimAIENT                             Ils/elles prenAIENT


The « nous » form of AIMER in the present is : NOUS AIMONS. The stem is AIM- and I have added the imperfect endings as indicated above.

For PRENDRE, I have done exactly the same thing : NOUS PRENONS in the present of the indicative. The stem is PREN- and I have added the IMPARFAIT endings.


There is only ONE irregular verb in the imperfect in French. Hurray ! Just one ! It is the verb ÊTRE. Its stem in the imperfect is actually ÉT-



Tu étais

Il/elle/on était

Nous étions

Vous étiez

Ils/elles étaient


Do you want to try it ? Time for some practice !


1. Conjugate the verbes below in the IMPARFAIT

COURIR (to run)              Vous _____________

VENDRE (to sell)             Je _______________

CHANTER (to sing)          Nous _____________

REGARDER (to watch)    Tu ______________

VOIR (to see)                   Nous _____________

PAYER (to pay)                Elles _____________


2. Next, why don’t you fill in the blanks of this little text based on the story of web series « Oh La La, Hollywood Speaks French ! ». The verbs you need to conjugate in the « imparfait » are indicated in the brackets.

QUAND SOFIA _________ (être) à Los Angeles, elle __________ (habiter) chez sa sœur Lili. Elles _____________ (inviter) souvent les amis de Lili à prendre l’apéritif. Elles ___________ (aimer) aussi se balader ou faire du sport ensemble. Le colocataire de Lili, Pablo, __________ (passer) beaucoup de temps avec elles aussi. Il ___________ (avoir) beaucoup d’humour et _____________ (faire) rire les filles.

Translation: When Sofia was in Los Angeles, she lived with her sister Lili. They often invited Lili’s friends for drinks. They liked hanging out together and exercise. Lili’s roommate, Pablo, spent a lot of time with them too. He had a lot of humor and made the girls laugh.

Web series to learn French


1. Vous couriez – Je vendais – Nous chantions – Tu regardais – Nous voyions – Elles payaient / 2. était – habitait – invitaient – aimaient – passait – avait – faisait

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