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Passé composé VS imparfait?

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Learning a new language can be challenging, especially when it comes to mastering verb tenses. For French learners, the passé composé and the imparfait are two verb tenses that often cause confusion. In this blog post, we will review a video that explains when and how to choose between the passé composé and the imparfait when speaking in French.

Understanding the Passé Composé and the Imparfait

The passé composé and the imparfait are two past tenses in French, but they are used in different ways. The passé composé is used to describe completed actions in the past, while the imparfait is used to describe ongoing or habitual actions in the past.

For example, if you want to say “I ate breakfast this morning,” you would use the passé composé: “J’ai mangé le petit-déjeuner ce matin.” On the other hand, if you want to say “I used to eat breakfast every morning,” you would use the imparfait: “Je mangeais le petit-déjeuner tous les matins.”

Choosing Between the Passé Composé and the Imparfait

The choice between the passé composé and the imparfait can be tricky, but there are some rules that can help you decide which one to use.

  1. Completed actions vs. ongoing actions: As mentioned earlier, the passé composé is used for completed actions, while the imparfait is used for ongoing or habitual actions.

  2. Interruption: If an ongoing action is interrupted by a completed action, you would use the passé composé for the completed action and the imparfait for the ongoing action. For example, “Je mangeais le petit-déjeuner quand le téléphone a sonné.” (I was eating breakfast when the phone rang.)

  3. Description: The imparfait is used to describe people, things, and situations in the past, while the passé composé is used for actions. For example, “Il faisait beau ce matin.” (It was beautiful this morning.)

  4. Sequence of events: When there are several actions in the past, the passé composé is used for the first action and the imparfait for the following actions. For example, “Je suis entré dans le magasin et j’ai acheté du pain.” (I entered the store and bought some bread.)

Content of the Video

The video starts with an introduction to the passé composé and the imparfait, followed by some examples of each tense. I  then goes on to explain the rules for choosing between the two tenses, using several examples to illustrate each point. 

At the end of the video, an exercise is proposed to check your understanding of the rules. This is a great way to practice and reinforce what you have learned.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the passé composé and the imparfait are two important past tenses in French, and mastering them is essential for effective communication in the language. 

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