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Passé Composé vs Imparfait

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Fiona Hardy

on 17 October 2014

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Transcript of Passé Composé vs Imparfait

Imparfait vs Passé Composé
Imparfait or Passé Composé
Most of the time, when we want to talk about something that happened in the past in French we have to choose between the imparfait and passé composeé.
Imparfait = Incomplete
Passé Composé = Complete
The passé composé expresses one or more events or actions that began and ended in the past at a specific time.

J'ai mangé. I ate or I have eaten.
The imparfait or imperfect describes an action with no specific start or completion that began and ended in the past.

Je mangais. I was eating
Passé Composé = Occasional
The passé composé describes a single event, or an event that happened a specific number of times.

J'ai voyagé en France l'été dernier.
J'ai visité la tour eiffel trois fois.
Passé Composé = New
The passé composé indicates a change in physical or mental state at a precise moment or for an isolated cause.

J'ai eu peur quand l'alarme d'incendie a sonné.
Pour la première fois, j'ai aimé les oignons.
Imparfait = Habitual
The imparfait describes habitual or repeated actions that occur an nonspecific number of times.

Je voyageais en France tous les étés.
Je visitais souvent la tour eiffel.
Imparfait = Ongoing
The imparfait describes attitudes, states of being, and physical conditions.

J'avais peur des araignées.
J'aimais les oignons.
Explanation for Visual Learners
Questions to Ask
1. Is the action complete or incomplete?
2. Is the action habitual or occasional?
3. Is the action ongoing or new?
4. If you are telling a story, are you describing the background or the action of the story?
Imparfait = Background
The Imparfait describes background info in a story.

Il faisait froid.
Il était une fois.
Passé Composé = Actions of a Story
In a story the passé composé describes new actions.

Jean-Claude est arrivé à la gare.
Full transcript