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  5. "Yesterday, he wrote a letter…

"Yesterday, he wrote a letter."

Translation:Hier, il a écrit une lettre.

December 22, 2012



There is only one answer here and it's "Hier, il a écrit une lettre". The action happened at a specific time "yesterday". The imperfect should not be used.


He has written = Il + [present tense of avoir] + [present tense of écrire] = Il a écrit


The imperfect tense can be used to describe a past action that is either ongoing/reoccurring/incomplete. Hence, He was writing = Il écrivais.


Don't be discouraged; Duolingo is an immersive experience where you have to jump right in and figure things out when you haven't yet learned something.


Beware: écrit here is not the present tense - it's the past participle.


please give some instruction before introducing different tenses


the imperfect should not be used the action is complete.


I am aware of the differences and uses of "il a écrit" and "il écrivais", I just wasn't looking for it. Also if I hadn't known, how would I have been aware of it? I notice there are Tips and Notes on the German section, but not on the French.


The Imperfect Indicative is used to indicate:

  • An action that was going on in the past at the same time as another action. Example: Il lisait pendant que j'écrivais. = He was reading while I was writing.

  • An action that was going on in the past when another action occurred. Example: Il lisait quand je suis entré. = He was reading when I came in.

  • An action that a person did habitually in the past. Example: Nous allions à la plage tous les jours. = We used to go to the beach every day <or> We would go to the beach every day.

  • A description of a mental of physical condition in the past. Example (mental condition): Il était triste quand je l'ai vu = He was sad when I saw him. Example (physical condition): Quand ma mère était jeune, elle était belle = When my mother was young, she was beautiful.

  • An action or state of being that occurred in the past and lasted for a certain length of time prior to another past action. The action or state of being no longer exists. Example: J'attendais l'autobus depuis dix minutes quand il est arrivé. = I had been waiting for the bus for ten minutes when it arrived.

Source: Barron's 501 French Verbs

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