Imperfect Tense Conjugation

August 11, 2015 Madeleine K

How to conjugate verbs into the imperfect tense (ongoing past tense), including the irregular conjugation of être.

Imperfect Tense Conjugation

When to use it:

Use the imperfect tense to describe something in the past that was ongoing. In English this is done by saying something "was" happening. For example: "I was running for an hour this morning", "They were diving in Hawai'i when they saw a sea turtle".

How to use it:

Take of the ending of the infinitive verb (“ar”, “ir”, or “re”). Next, add the appropriate ending from the list below. Imperfect is easier than present tense because the endings are the same for ALL VERBS (yay)! ....except, of course, for the exception (below). There's also no agreement needed! (So you don't have to add an "e" for females or "s" for plurals).

Remove: -ar, -ir, -re    Add: -infinitive ending

je = AIS                nous = IONS

tu = AIS                vous = IEZ

il, elle, on = AIT    ils, elles = AIENT


j'allais= I was going

tu allais= you were going

il allait= he was going

elle allait = she was going 

on allait = one was going

nous allions = we were going

vous alliez = you were going

ils/elles allaient= they were going

Exception- Être 

The only irregular imperfect verb is être. It's conjugated like this:

je = J’étais                    nous = Nous étions

tu = Tu étais                 vous = Vous étiez

il, elle, on = Il était        ils, elles = Ils étaient

*Don't forget your accents!


Have you thought about online lessons?

Online tuition gives you access to brilliant tutors across the country
Connect one-to-one with a tutor or share your lesson with a group for 50% of the tutor's hourly rate! Find a Tutor for One-to-One Find an Online Study Group

Want to know more?

Visit Madeleine's profile to find out more and send a message.

Visit Madeleine's Profile

Resources others found helpful

How to get into medical school

This resource signposts and describes what we should be aiming for in our application to study …

learn more

Emanuel School Sample Paper Maths and Marks Scheme

This is a sample paper and marks scheme for year 7 11+ entry for Emanuel School.

learn more

Dyslexia Symptoms in School Children

Signs and symptoms that suggest dyslexia in school children

learn more

Taking the PEE... The Point, Evidence, Explanation method

How to cover all bases and give structure to your paragraphs when answering questions on a set piece …

learn more

Free resources, revision notes and past papers for students

Find revision guides, exam papers and sample essays amongst hundreds of free resources available to students.

Find resources any subjects

Maths resources | Science resources | Music resources | Spanish resources | English resources | French resources