The Imperfect Tense - An Explanation

# R. L. Smith #

The Imperfect Tense - An Explanation


Formation

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

Exceptions


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


ero
eri
era
eravamo
eravate
eraano

and FARE which becomes:


facevo
facevi
faceva
facevamo
facevate
facevano

Use of the Imperfect Tense:

The Imperfect tense is used in the following cases:


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


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


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


4. Talking about something that used to happen regularly in the past: Ogni anno andavamo in Italia per natale e facevamo lo sci.


5. 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.


6. 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