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Imparfait VS Conditionnel

LESSON OBJECTIVES

To understand the difference between the imparfait (imperfect) and the conditionnel (conditional) and when to use them.

REMINDER: USE OF THE IMPERFECT TENSE

The imparfait is a past tense. The closest translation for it is the Imperfect or Past progressive or continuous.

Example

Je jouais au tennis tous les mercredis. = I used to play tennis every Wednesday.

Example 

Je regardais la télévision lorsque quelqu'un a frappé à la porte. = I was watching TV when someone knocked on the door.

Example

Il faisait beau et les oiseaux chantaient = It was sunny and the birds were singing.

Example

Quand j'étais enfant, je rêvais de devenir chanteur = When I was a child, I used to dream of becoming a singer.

REMINDER: USE OF THE CONDITIONAL TENSE

The conditional is a tense which describes an action that may happen if another action takes place.

Example

Je sortirais s’il faisait beau = I would go out if the weather was nice.

Note

WHY COMPARE THESE TWO TENSES?

Well, it is because the endings of the imperfect and conditional are exactly the same.

So how to distinguish between imperfect and conditional?

The sound varies. You will hear R for the conditional, because the stem used in the conditional is the same one as in the future tense.

Example with a Group 1 verb:
Example with a Group 2 verb:
Examples with Group 3 verbs:

Reminder: these verbs are highly irregular.

EXAMPLES

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