The Imperfect Tense - An Explanation

 

Back to Imperfect Tense Index                                                                FIRST EXERCISE

 

This is the easiest tense in Italian and is easily recognised by the presence of the letter v in all parts.  This letter does not appear as a regular part of any other tense.

 

To form the imperfect we take the infinitive, remove the re, then add the following endings:

 

io………vo

tu………vi

lui/lei….va

noi…..vamo

voi……vate

loro….vano

 

There are not many exceptions to the rule. The key ones are the verb ESSERE which becomes:

 

ero

eri

era

eravamo

eravate

erano

 

and FARE which becomes:

 

facevo

facevi

faceva

facevamo

facevate

facevano

 

 

 

USES OF THE IMPERFECT TENSE

 

The Imperfect tense is used in the following cases:

 

v     Description in the past:  La casa era molto grande.

 

v     Describing the weather at a time in the past:  Faceva bello.

 

v     Giving an opinion in the past, era + adjective:  Era magnifico.

 

v     Talking about something that used to happen regularly in the past: 

Ogni anno andavamo in Italia per natale e facevamo lo sci. 

 

v     Talking about how things used to be over a period of time in the past: A quell’epoca, mio padre lavorava a Londra e mia madre era casalinga.

 

v    Saying what was happening, when something else happened; (one action (in the perfect tense) cuts across another on-going one (in the imperfect)  Leggevo il giornale quando mio padre è entrato nel salotto.  Mia madre lavorava nel giardino, quando il telefono ha suonato