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How and When to Use Italian Imperfect Indicative

Have you already watched our lesson about the imperfect indicative morphology (endings, roots, irregular verbs, etc.)? Perfect, now it’s time to find out how and when we use it in Italian!

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IMPERFECT INDICATIVE in ITALIAN

We use it:

  • to talk about habits in past (with expressions such as “da bambino, l’anno scorso, da giovane, quando ero…“) 

           Da bambino faceva spesso arrabbiare i suoi genitori. [As a child, he used to make his parents angry often.]

           L’anno scorso tutti usavano i pantaloni a sigaretta.  [Last year all people used to wear bell-bottom pants]

 

  • to describe something in the past 

           La casa era molto grande e disponeva di quattro bagni. [The house was extremely big and there were four bathrooms.]

           La ragazza aveva i capelli neri e gli occhi scuri e indossava una salopette di jeans. [The girl had black hair and dark eyes and she wore a denim    overalls.]

           Nella stanza c’erano molti quadri e mobili antichi. [In the room there were many pictures and antique furniture]

 

  • to talk about contemporaneity in the past (with expressions such as “quando…, mentre…“) 

          Quando era piccolo, mangiava spesso le caramelle. [When he was young, he often ate candies]

          Mentre tu parlavi, io scrivevo una lettera. [While you were talking, I was writing a letter]

 

  • to talk about actions in progress in the past interrupted by other actions (in the passato prossimo)

          Mentre ero al telefono con te, Mario mi ha mandato un messaggio. [While I was on the phone with you, Mario sent me a message.]

         Nuotava in piscina, quando ha sentito sua moglie chiamare il suo nome. [He was swimming in the pool, when he heard his wife calling his name.]

         Mentre andavo all’università, ho incontrato Luca.  [While I was going to university, I met Luca].

Now you know how to use the imperfect indicative! Therefore, it’s should not be a problem for you to describe yourself when you were a child and talk about your habits: try in the comments!

And then have a look at our lesson about how to form the passato prossimo (and the past participle)!

Vediamo se hai appreso i contenuti di questa lezione! Prova a fare gli esercizi!

Scegli il tempo appropriato: quando ___ piccolo, dormivo sempre a casa di mia nonna
Seleziona l’uso dell'imperfetto indicativo per la frase: la mia prima macchina era rossa
Seleziona l’uso dell’imperfetto indicativo per la frase: quando vivevo a Bologna, mangiavo sempre la bolognese
L'imperfetto indicativo si usa anche per azioni che si prevede possano verificarsi in futuro
La mia ex fidanzata ____ i capelli biondi
Si può usare l'imperfetto per fatti avvenuti abitualmente nel passato?

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