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The Imperfect Tense : The Verbs of the First Group

The Imperfect tense indicates what was, or was happening, or happened regularly in the past and which stopped happening now. It emphasizes time, habit, repetition, aspect, condition or state.

Let’s review these examples:

Mon père travaillait dans une usine.
My father worked in a factory.

The verb “travaillait” means that my father worked for a certain period of time in a factory, but is no longer working in a factory now.

Madame Dupont était une femme de classe.
Madame Dupont was a classy woman.

The verb “était” shows that Madame Dupont is either dead or stopped being classy.

Quand j’étais petit, je faisais souvent des bêtises.
When I was young, I often misbehaved.

Here we have two verbs in the imperfect tense: “étais” and “faisais”. The two verbs indicate an action or a state that no longer exist now.

The verbs of the first group

The verbs of the first group end in “er” except for “aller” which is a verb of the third group. They are called regular verbs because they follow the same conjugation in all tenses.

Let’s conjugate the verb “parler” to the imperfect tense:

Je parlais
Tu parlais
Il /elle/ on parlait
Nous parlions
Vous parliez
Ils/elles parlaient


The following verbs of the first group have a slightly different ending when conjugated into the imperfect tense:

1. Verbs ending in “ier” for example “crier

Je criais
Tu criais
Il /elle/ on criait
Nous criions
Vous criiez
Ils/elles criaient

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