Print

Print


There are many uses for imperfect in French.
Iterative, for ex: chaque matin, je prenais le train
de 8 heures.

Or this one:
"Une seconde de plus, et le train lui passait sur le
corps" (one second later, the train would have killed
him, but it didn't).

The famous author Simenon made it a part of his style
to use imperfect instead of passe simple in his
novels.

In fact, if it comes to style, you can use nearly any
tense to express nearly whatever. Suppose you're
telling (today) about Napoleon's life, and you say "Un
mois plus tard, c'etait Waterloo"; you can as well say
"Un mois plus tard, ce sera Waterloo", or "Un mois
plus tard, ce fut Waterloo", or "Un mois plus tard,
c'est Waterloo", or "Un mois plus tard, ce serait
Waterloo". What a mess ! (The simplest way: "Un mois
plus tard: Waterloo.")

--- "Douglas Koller, Latin & French"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Key to the imperfect is that in the speaker's mind,
> at the point in
> the past being discussed, the action's beginning or
> end has no
> relevance. That can translate into English as
> something
> continuous/progressive:
>
> Je lisais ce livre, quand le téléphone a sonné.
> I was reading that book when the phone rang.
>
> something repetetive in the past:
>
> Quand j'étais jeune, je lisais ce livre.
> When I was young, I used to read that book.
>
> or:
>
> Je lisais ce livre quand j'étais jeune, mais je ne
> le fais plus.
> I used to read that book when I weas young, but I
> don't do that anymore.
>
> Other interpretations in English are possible, but
> it is not
> (necessarily) a connection to something still going
> on. Hence,
> imperfect is perfectly acceptable with regard to
> dead people:
>
> Chaque soir, mon mari lisait le journal en fumant sa
> pipe .
> Every evening, my husband would read the newspaper
> while smoking his pipe.


=====
Philippe Caquant

"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Finance Tax Center - File online. File on time.
http://taxes.yahoo.com/filing.html