The French imperfect is very easy to conjugate. With a single exception, every single French verb is conjugated as follows:

  1. Start with the verb’s nous form of the present tense
  2. Drop –ons
  3. Add the imperfect ending.

The only verb that doesn’t—can’t—follow this pattern is être, because its nous form is sommes, so there’s no –ons to drop. Instead, it uses ét– as its imperfect stem.

Par exemple…

Here are the imperfect conjugations for the regular -er verb donner (to give), the regular -ir verb choisir (to choose), the stem-changing verb lever (to lift), and the irregular verbs aller (to go) and être (to be).

Pronoun Ending
je / j’ -ais
tu -ais
il -ait
nous -ions
vous -iez
ils -aient
donner > donn- choisir > choisiss- lever > lev- aller > all- être > ét-
donnais choisissais levais allais étais
donnais choisissais levais allais étais
donnait choisissait levait allait était
donnions choisissions levions allions étions
donniez choisissiez leviez alliez étiez
donnaient choisissaient levaient allaient étaient

French imperfect endings are identical to conditional endings.


When to use Imparfait