When to use the Imparfait: the Ultimate Guide in 2020

when to use the imparfait

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In this French grammar lesson we will learn about when to use the imparfait.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • when to use the imparfait
  • how the imparfait is used in sentences
  • how you can quiz yourself on when to use the imparfait
  • how to practice with flashcards on when to use the imparfait
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn French

Please refer to the French A2 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar if you are curious about how when to use the imparfait fits in French A2 grammar.

Please also read how to form the imparfait to find out how you can form it.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use the imparfait.

Table of Contents

When to use the Imparfait

There are 4 cases when you would use the imparfait.

  1. Expressing an ongoing action
  2. Describing someone or something
  3. Giving an opinion
  4. Expressing repeated actions or habits

We will handle all of them, and give examples for all of them.

Expressing an ongoing action

In this case you are describing an ongoing action, without a clear beginning or end.

Vous parliez de technologie hier soir.

You were talking about technology yesterday evening.

Yesterday evening you started talking about technology.

It is not clear when you began talking about it, neither when you finished.

This was an ongoing action.

In other words, we are describing an ongoing action, with no clear beginning or ending.

Describing something or someone

In this case you can use the Imparfait to provide a description of something or someone.

La maison était magnifique et avait une grande porte bleue.

The house was beautiful and had a big blue door.

Quand j’avais 12 ans, j’avais les cheveux bruns et des lunettes noires.

When I was 12, I had brown hair and black glasses.

The Imparfait is used in the examples to provide a description.

In the first example a house and a door are described.

In the second example a person is describing how he looked when he was 12.

Thus we are providing a description of something or someone, or an opinion.

Giving an opinion

In this case you are using the imparfait to give an opion.

Le match de football était génial !

The football match was great!

In this example someone is giving his/her opinion on a football match.

This person thought that the match was great.

Thus, we are giving an opinion.

Expressing repeated actions or habits

In this case you are describing repeated actions or habits.

Chaque été, nous allions à la plage et jouions au volley-ball.

Every summer, we would go to the beach and play volleyball.

Je lisais tous les jours pendant 30 minutes

I used to read every day for 30 minutes

In the first sentence, we are describing a repeated action. Every summer this person would go to the beach and play volleyball. This is an action that repeats itself every summer.

In the second sentence, a person had a habit of reading every day for 30 minutes. This is a past habit.

So, we are describing a repeated action or habit.

Example Sentences with the Imparfait

The final section of this lesson on when to use the imparfait is about seeing imparfait in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding of when to use the imparfait through examples.

Vous parliez de technologie hier soir.

You were talking about technology yesterday evening.

La maison était magnifique et avait une grande porte bleue.

The house was beautiful and had a big blue door.

Quand j’avais 12 ans, j’avais les cheveux bruns et des lunettes noires.

When I was 12, I had brown hair and black glasses.

Le match de football était génial !

The football match was great!

Chaque été, nous allions à la plage et jouions au volley-ball.

Every summer, we would go to the beach and play volleyball.

Je lisais tous les jours pendant 30 minutes.

I used to read every day for 30 minutes.

Quiz Yourself on When to Use the Imparfait

At the end of every lesson you can do a small quiz.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

It is up to you to give the correct answer.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want!

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information on flashcards and the best way to learn a new language.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

Anki is a free software with which you can create and practice flashcards.

After you have downloaded Anki, you can get our French A2 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 3,816 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for French A2.

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to learn a new language?

I have been learning languages for over 20+ years and I was always frustrated with books, courses, and classes that I had tried.

It never really seemed to work for me.

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So I thought, “why not make something myself?“.

Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be a easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

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You can register for free and try the French A0/A1 and Spanish A0/A1 Courses for free!

This includes over 60 lessons and quizzes, 500 flashcards that adapt to how you learn, and access to the community (including support from me).

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Don’t miss out – register for free and start learning!

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