What are the RULES for Passé composé & Imparfait???

Hello everyone!

I from the Netherlands and living in Paris and yes, also really struggeling with learning French. Now I have a problem which I just can't figure out:

Passé composé & Imparfait

WHAT are the rules??? WHEN do I use WHAT??? Are there even rules for this??? I noticed that for ETRE and AVOIRmostly they use the Imparfait but then for for example ALLER & FAIRE they tend to use the Passé composé. I am seriously going crazy because I can't find ANY explanation.

Is there SOMEONE that can help me???

June 20, 2017


This is a broad topic, so you may want to Google it for detailed information if you don't find an explanation in the DL grammar section. I'm going to offer a VERY simplistic overview:

1) When describing someone physically in the past, use the imperfect of être: Elle était très belle. Tu étais blonde avant.

2) When describing other things in the past, the passé composé is a single action (think of a still photo capturing just one moment); and the imparfait is an action that was repeated multiple times in the past, OR was ongoing (this last one would be like a video of an action in the past). Examples:

Il a mangé une pomme hier (imagine a pic of him eating the apple - just once)

Il mangeait une pomme chaque matin quand il était jeune. (he did this again and again)

Il mangeait une pomme quand je suis arrivée (he was in the process of eating the apple when something else happened)

I hope this helps a little. :)

June 20, 2017

Hi thanks! I did, but I dont get a clear anwser :(.

June 21, 2017

Oh, well I hope the comments in your thread help some. Good luck!

June 21, 2017

Use passé composé to describe a moment in time.

Use the imperfect to describe how things were.

June 20, 2017

Have you looked at the extensive "Tips and Notes" for these topics (in the web version of Duolingo)? I have found these "Tips and Notes" to be on point and comprehensive, and I periodically refer to them when I am strengthening one of these skills.

June 23, 2017
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