B1 - Intermediate
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Using the correct tense in the past

Using the correct tense in the past

Learning Objectives 

  • Understand the difference between imperfect and compound past
  • Be able to use both past tenses correctly
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Key Words & Phrases

Common phrases with imparfait

  • Tous les (…): tous les jours, tous les matins, tous les soirs…
  • Chaque (…): chaque mois, chaque jour, chaque matin…
  • Le lundi, le jeudi, l’hiver…
  • En général, généralement, d’habitude…
  • Parfois, souvent, de temps en temps, jamais…

Common phrases with passé composé

  • Hier, avant-hier…
  • Un jour, un matin, un soir…
  • La semaine dernière, le mois dernier, l’été dernier, l’année dernière…
  • Soudain, tout à coup, d’un seul coup, tout de suite…
  • Quand, lorsque…


Imparfait vs Passé composé

Imparfait vs Passé composé

Imparfait vs Passé composé

Lawless French: Imparfait vs Passé composé

Lingolia: Imparfait vs Passé composé

Cliffsnotes: phrases with imparfait and passé composé


French Lessons: Imparfait vs Passé composé

The perfect French with Dylane: Imparfait vs Passé composé

Easy Languages: Speaking about the past


LanguageAtlas: Imparfait vs Passé composé

French Today: Imparfait vs Passé composé

Lawless French: verbs usually in the imparfait

Lawless French: different tenses for different meanings


Français facile: practice the past tenses

Lingolia: practice the past tenses

Lawless French: practice the past tenses

Quia: practice the past tenses

Using one of the recommended resources to get writing feedback, respond to the prompt below. 

  • Write sentences narrating the two events, as per the example. Use a phrase to link the actions together.

Example: Les enfants – pleurer / ils – s’endormir 

=> Les enfants pleuraient. Soudain, ils se sont endormis.

  • Nous – faire à manger / les invités – arriver
  • Vous – se promener / nous – vous voir
  • Je – changer une ampoule / je – tomber de l’échelle
  • Les voisins – dormir / on – sonner à la porte
  • Tu – aimer les fruits de mer / tu – devenir allergique

Using one of the platforms for finding a tutor or language exchange partner, practice the speaking activities below. 

Partner Speaking Exercise:

  • Think about a memory or a story, and describe it to your French-speaking partner. Describe the weather, the colors, and narrate the actions.

Ask your partner to ask you questions about it, using the imparfait and the passé composé. Then, listen to their story and ask them questions about it.

Independent Speaking Exercise:

  • Think of daily ongoing actions and interruptions. You can use the ideas below if you do not feel inspired. Make five sentences, in French, using both the imparfait and the passé composé.
  • Examples of ongoing actions: watching TV, someone was eating, talking to a friend, walking the dog, taking a shower.
  • Examples of interruptions: the phone rang, they choked on their food (to choke: s’étrangler), someone asked for the time, it started snowing, the water became cold.

You can find instructions and a download link in our flashcards module

Lesson Content
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