In French , does anyone know how to easily know when to use the perfect and when to use the imperfect tense? Thank you?
The perfect tense is about an event which is done and over. Also "j'ai lu" can be translated by both "I read" or "I have read" depending on the context. The imperfect is about duration, habits, repetition or descriptions. "Je lisais" can be translated by "I was reading" or " I used to read". The imperfect is also the past tense usually used when talking about the weather, time or age. ("Quand j'avais quatre ans...") These two tenses can be used in the same sentence: "Je lisais quand le téléphone a sonné" (I was reading when the phone rang) shows the duration of the first action as opposed to an event which is over (the phone rang). In order to understand better which tense to use in such a sentence it's quite a good idea to try and imagine the scene.
In general you can use this rule to know which tense to choose: - perfect tense: je suis allé au cinéma (le week-end dernier) it focused on the fact I went once last weekend, the perfect tense conveys actions that happened once at a certain time. - imperfect tense: j’allais au cinéma (pendant mes vacances) it focused on the fact I went several times during the holidays, the imperfect tense conveys past habits / actions which happened several times across a time period.
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