Imperfect (Imparfait)
 
 
The imperfect is the tense of past description. It is used to describe settings, repeated actions in the past, or actions which are so vague as to elude any specific beginning or ending: Expressions of emotion or of states of mind are frequently described in the imperfect: While verbs describing mental and emotional states in the past are often in the imparfait, they may be put in the passé composé when one wishes to signal a change or a reaction: Note that English uses three different forms to express the imperfect:
When I was young I used to dance.
I was dancing when he fell on the dancefloor.
When I was little, we would dance every Sunday.
All of these are expressed by the imperfect in French:
Quand j'étais jeune, je dansais.
Je dansais quand il est tombé sur la piste de danse.
Quand j'étais petit, nous dansions tous les dimanches.
Warning: do not confuse the imperfect with the conditional. When "would" is used to describe a habitual action in the past, it must be written in the imperfect in French: Note that recent past constructions (venir de + infinitive), when used in the imperfect, have the meaning of a pluperfect:  
See also:  

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