Choisir Entre Passe Compose Et Imparfait

Imparfait and Passe compose are both used to talk about the past. The difference is used depending on the context and the speakers perspective.


  • describes how things were, and the way things used to be
  • indicates what a situation was like
  • describes what was going on, or a state of mind
  • recalls repeated past actions

The Imparfait sets the scene and provides the backround information. The imparfait also describes a particular circumstance.

Adverbs used with imparfait:

  • generalement- generally
  • d'habitude-usually
  • toujours- always
  • souvent- often
  • rarement-seldom

Example of Imparfait:

1. Un jour, je suis allé travailler.
Generalement, je serait aller à l'école.

One day, I went to work.
Generally, I would go to school.

J'ai toujours a la classe.
Je manque rarement de classe.

I always go to class.
I rarely miss class.

Passe Compose

  • tells what happens next
  • narrates past events and actions
  • relates a series of past actions or events
  • introduces an interruption to an ongoing action

The Passe Compose enables the speaker or the writer to tell the audience what happened.

Adverbs used with Passe Compose:

  • un jour- one day
  • d'abord- first
  • puis- then
  • ensuite- next
  • enfin- finally
  • soudain- suddenly
  • tout d'un coup- all at once, suddenly

Example of Passe Compose:

1. D'abord, j'ai fait du café, puis j'ai préparé le petit déjeuner. J'ai toujours cuits souvent.

First, I made coffee, then I prepared breakfast.
I used to cook often.

Un jour, je vais d'etudes superieures.
Puis, je vais trouver un emploi.

One day, I will graduate.
Then I will get a job.