French Learning Video Blog, Feb 3rd, Passé Composé & Imparfait

French Learning Video Blog, Feb 3rd, Passé Composé & Imparfait

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Added by February 3, 2015

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PASSÉ COMPOSÉ & IMPARFAIT

BONJOUR À TOUS!

How exciting! Today we’re gonna tackle one of the most difficult lesson when learning to speak French! The difference between the IMPARFAIT and the PASSÉ COMPOSÉ! QUEL STRESS! Right? Those are the two past tenses we use the most in French, and you just can’t interchange them since specific rules apply. I’ve already done a blog on it, feel free to check it out by clicking on the link coming up now, but since this lesson is super tricky I thought I’d guide you through it in this video.

So, when do we use the PASSÉ COMPOSÉ? Whenever we are in what we call the narrative mode in linguistics. Basically, you use this tense whenever you refer to a punctual action in the past. Little words such as HIER (yesterday), AVANT-HIER (the day before yesterday), LA SEMAINE/L’ANNÉE DERNIÈRE (last week/year), generally indicate that you need to use the PASSÉ COMPOSÉ.

Examples: HIER SOIR JE SUIS ALLÉE DANSER.

Or IL EST PARTI EN FRANCE L’ANNÉE DERNIÈRE.

Now, when do we use the IMPARFAIT? Whenever you are in what we call the commentary mode in linguistics. That includes all kinds of descriptions, states of mind, repeated actions in the past. If you give the time in the past, you’re gonna use the IMPARFAIT. Some words may guide you in using the imperfect: HABITUELLEMENT, TOUS LES JOURS, RÉGULIÈREMENT.

Examples: QUAND ON VIVAIT EN FRANCE, ON ALLAIT AU MARCHÉ TOUS LES JOURS.

IL SEMBLAIT EN FORME, MAIS EN FAIT ÇA N’ALLAIT PAS DU TOUT.

Verbs like ÊTRE or SEMBLER refer to a state of mind, so they’re often going to be in the imperfect. But not always guys! If I say, IL A ÉTÉ MALADE MAIS IL VA MIEUX MAINTENANT. I’m referring to him being sick for a while, but not anymore. I therefore refer to the event as being punctual and I’m going to use the PASSÉ COMPOSÉ here.

Let’s mix the two tenses together some more to really start differentiating them from each other.

IL ÉTAIT DIX HEURES DU MAT ET JE VENAIS DE ME LAVER QUAND IL A DÉBARQUÉ CHEZ MOI À L’IMPROVISTE. J’ÉTAIS À POIL, LA HONTE! JE ME SENTAIS MAL MAIS IL A ÉTÉ TRÈS COOL. OUF!

Starting to get the hang of it? I hope so. If you’d like to practice with some exercises, click on the link coming up now, it will take you right where you wanna go.

À PLUS!

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