MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

137 views

When should I use the imperfect?

The imperfect in Italian is always a little tricky at first, but once you have got the hang of it, it will begin to come naturally - I promise! 

So the imperfect is a tense that is usually translated into English as "was doing...". For example "mangiavo" would usually be translated as "I was eating". In effect this means that the imperfect in Italian often talks about events which have not finished, or have no definite end.

However, there are few annoying problems with this. Let's look at them now:

Habitual Action

When we want to say "I used to..." in Italian we simply use the imperfect. So if we wanted to say "I used to watch Cbeebies everyday", we would say "guardavo Cbeebies ogni giorno"

Description

If we want to describe something, or someone, especially when we are writing, we will often use the imperfect, whilst English uses the perfect. For example if we want to say "he had long eyelashes", we would say "aveva le ciglia lunghe"

Background information

This one is nice and easy as it correlates with English usage. For example, "Marco was eating spaghetti when Enrico started to cry" translates to "Marco mangiava spaghetti quando Enrico ha cominciato a piangere"

Stylistic Effect

You don't need to worry too much about this unless you're going to be doing lots of creative writing. Still, it's good to recognise it, and understand it. So, we sometimes use the imperfect to describe events in the past that we want to make especially vivid, or give the impression that they happened successively. This is particularly common in sports' journalism, headlines, and descriptions of dreams or fantasies

The Imperfect SUBJUNCTIVE

If you haven't yet come across the subjunctive then you may ignore this section. For those of you who have, the imperfect subjunctive is used in "if clauses". It expresses the notion "if one were to...". For example if we want to say "If the government were to continue, I would be angry", we would use the imperfect subjunctive to produce "Se il governo continuasse, io sarei furioso/a"

These are the main uses of the imperfect and cover 99% of the times you may need to use it

Hope that helps, 

Benjamin

Still unsure? Send me a message and we can set up a tutorial!!

Benjamin A. GCSE Italian tutor, A Level Italian tutor, GCSE French tu...

3 months ago

Answered by Benjamin, an A Level Italian tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

24 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Emma G.

Degree: Combined Honours in Social Sciences (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Italian, Latin+ 2 more

Italian
Latin
History of Art
Government and Politics

“I am a Italian native speaker, now half way through my Bachelor in Social Sciences at Durham University. I am a very friendly and enthusiastic person and I truly enjoy tutoring. My passion for teaching started a few years ago, when I ...”

MyTutor guarantee

£36 /hr

Giulia A.

Degree: MSt Modern Languages (Italian) (Masters) - Oxford, St Edmund Hall University

Subjects offered: Italian, History of Art+ 2 more

Italian
History of Art
English Literature

“I'm Giulia, I'm 22 years old and I am currently at the University of Oxford to do my MSt Modern Modern Languages (Italian), after completing a BA in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London. I am currently studying po...”

£26 /hr

Francesco G.

Degree: BSc Biomedical Science (Bachelors) - Kings, London University

Subjects offered: Italian, Science+ 9 more

Italian
Science
Philosophy and Ethics
Human Biology
Chemistry
.UKCAT.
.BMAT (BioMedical Admissions)
-Personal Statements-
-Medical School Preparation-

“Hello! My name is Francesco Grillo, I am a first-year Biomedical Science student in London, at King's College London. I am passionate about science, philosophy and languages.I was born in Rome (Italy). My first experience abroad was ...”

About the author

Benjamin A.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: Italian with Polish (Bachelors) - Oxford, Magdalen College University

Subjects offered: Italian, French+ 4 more

Italian
French
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
English Language
.MLAT (Modern Languages)

“About Me: I'm a first year languages student at the University of Oxford. I'm studying Italian with Polish, but I did A-level French, A-level English Literature, and AS-level Latin as well so I will be able to help you out with those ...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Benjamin

What makes a "good" creative writing piece?

When should I use the imperfect?

Other A Level Italian questions

When can I use venire as an auxiliary verb to form a passive tense?

What is the difference between the use of the conditional and the subjunctive?

Where can I find the Italian topical articles useful for the oral of A Level?

What are reflexive verbs in Italian?

View A Level Italian tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok