Passé Composé vs. Imparfait

  1. When do you use the passé composé?
    • 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 film 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 called.
  4. Sometimes the use of the passé composé and the imparfait in the same sentence expresses 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 description, such as time, weather, and location. The passé composé indicates the specific events.
  6. Expressions that signal the passé composé:
    • soudain-- suddenly
    • tout d'un coup-- all of a sudden
    • une (deux, etc.) fois-- once (twice, etc.)
  7. Expressions that signal the imparfait:
    • autrefois-- in the past
    • d'habitude-- usually
    • parfois-- sometimes
    • souvent-- often
    • toujours-- always
    • tous les jours-- every day
Card Set
Passé Composé vs. Imparfait
Verbs & Expressions of time- Unit 8, Lesson 16