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Help with Imparfait and Passe Compose

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Guest Cannotlose

So I'm currently in Pre-IB French 10 and I do not understand the difference between using Imparfait and Passe Compose.

 

Can someone help me out and explain?

 

Thanks

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Imparfait is when you're describing something you used to do, actions completed over a certain amount of time/unspecific amount of time, or what you were doing when -insert event occurred'. There are probably others, but we haven't really covered those yet (I think wishes/desires is one of them?) For example, 'J'ai jouais au tennis un fois par semaine' means 'I used to play tennis one time per week, whilst 'J'ai jouias au tennis quand il a commencé à pleuvoir' means 'I was playing tennis when it started to rain'.

 

Passé composé on the other hand is just used to describe actions completed in the past. "J'ai joué au tennis samedi" - I played tennis on Saturday, or, as above, "Il a commencé à pleuvoir" - It started to rain.

 

I hope that helped!

Edited by daeadalus
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So I'm currently in Pre-IB French 10 and I do not understand the difference between using Imparfait and Passe Compose.

 

Can someone help me out and explain?

 

Thanks

Imparfait is usually a background action or something you used to do... while Passe Compose is an action you have just done, or done once not very often..

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So I'm currently in Pre-IB French 10 and I do not understand the difference between using Imparfait and Passe Compose.

 

Can someone help me out and explain?

 

Thanks

 

The guys above did a good job of explaining it. For daeadalus's answer, its je jouais not j'ai jouais for imparfait :)

 

Also, the verbs avoir and être take imparfait rather than passé composé 99% of the time (it's rare to meet the 1%). In most descriptions, you'll use imparfait. When the time is indefinite, and the action continues in that indefinite period of time, you use imparfait. When the time is specific, you use passé composé.

 

For example: j'allais au ciné tous les weekends (I used to go the cinema every weekend)

and Hier, je suis allé au ciné (yesterday, I went to the cinema)

 

The more practice you get, the more familiar and easy it'll become :)

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Essentially, the Imparfait is used for a continuous ongoing action. E.g. I was walking and I saw the man = je marchais, et j'ai vu l'homme

I was walking is continuous. No 'instant' or 'time' can be placed on it, it's general. But when he SAW the man, it happened at an identifiable time. The action happened then stopped, it's not continuous.

 

There are other situations when you need to use the imparfait

1/ describing people in the past

2/ giving some background e.g. describing the time of day (e.g. c'était minuit = it was midnight)

3/ si + imparfait ---> conditionnel (e.g. si je étais jaune, je serais contente = if i was young, i would be happy)

 

I suggest going on french.about.com and finding the comprehensive list of about 5 situations

Edited by vladimir mykraine

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Imparfait usage can be remembered with this:

Don't Waste The Hard Bagels

 

Description
Weather
Time
Habitual
Background

 

Imparfait and P.C. can be used in the same sentence. PC generally tends to interrupt the sentence, as an abrupt event.

 

Je chantais quand mes parents sont arrivés.

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