Passê Composê vs. the Imparfait

  1. When do you use the passê composê?
    • To express actions that started and ended in the past and are viewed by the speaker as completed.
    • - J'ai balayé l'escalier deux fois.
    • -- I swept the stairs twice.
    • To express the beginning or end of a past action.
    • - Le film a commencé à huit heures.
    • -- The movie began at 8 o'clock.
    • To narrate a series of past actions or events.
    • - Nous avons fait les lits, nous avons rangé les chambres et nous avons passé l'aspirateur.
    • -- We made the beds, tidied up the rooms, and vacuumed.
  2. When do you use the imparfait?
    • To describe an ongoing past action with no reference to its beginning or end.
    • - Vous faisiez la lessive très tôt.
    • -- You were doing laundry very early.
    • To express habitual past actions and events
    • - On débarrassait toujours la table à neuf heures.
    • -- We always cleared the table at 9 o'clock.
    • To describe mental, physical, and emotional states or conditions.
    • - Mon ami avait faim et il avait envie de manger quelque chose.
    • -- My friend was hungry and felt like eating something.
  3. When the passé composé and the imparfait occur in the same sentence, the action in the passé composé often interrupts the ongoing action in the imparfait.
    • Vous dormiez et tout d'un coup, il a téléphoné.
    • -- You were sleeping, and all of a sudden he phoned.
  4. Sometimes the use of the passé composé and the imparfait in the same sentence express a cause and effect.
    • J'avais faim, donc j'ai mangé quelque chose.
    • -- I was hungry so I ate something.
  5. The passé composé and the imparfait are often used together to narrate.
    The imparfait provides the background discription, such as time, weather, and location. The passé composé indicates the specific events.
  6. Expressions that signal passé composé:
    • soudain- suddenly
    • tout d'un coup- all of a sudden
    • une (deux, etc.) fois- once (twice, etc.)
  7. Expressions that signal imparfait:
    • autrefois- in the past
    • d'habitude- usually
    • parfois- sometimes
    • souvent- often
    • toujours- always
    • tous les jours- every day
Card Set
Passê Composê vs. the Imparfait
Verbs & Expressions of time- Unit 8, Lesson 16