Weilà weilà raga!! After someone commented on my Imperfect Tense video, I realized I never wrote a blog post with notes! It's only been about a year and a half since I uploaded it.....well better late than never, right? ;) Or as you can say in Italian meglio tardi che mai! (I've linked the video at the end of this post.)
So when do we use the Imperfect Tense or the Imperfetto? Whenever you want to talk about things that you used to do. That, my friends, is the trick to understanding when to use this tense. HOWEVER - you can also use this tense, AT TIMES, as another equivalent of the SIMPLE PAST in English (I ate, I called, You said, etc - you catch my drift). I'll get into that later on.
What I'd like to do first is show you a few random phrases with verbs conjugated in the Imperfetto and then I'll go through all of the standard conjugations that you can find in my video.
L'estate scorsa, andavo sempre al cinema con i miei amici
- Last summer, I used to always go to the movies with my friends
Mia figlia amava quando le portavo a vedere i film di Harry Potter.
- My daughter used to love it when I'd take her to see the Harry Potter films.
Now that you've gotten a little taste of what's to come, let's jump right into some conjugations!
I'm going to show you two ways of remembering the verb endings. Here's the most straight-forward way:
ARE verb endings:
io - avo
tu - avi
lui/lei - ava
noi - avamo
voi - avate
loro - avano
ERE verb endings:
io - evo
tu - evi
lui/lei - eva
noi - evamo
voi - evate
loro - evano
IRE verb endings:
io - ivo
tu - ivi
lui/lei - iva
noi - ivamo
voi - ivate
loro - ivano
What's the other way, you ask? Just eliminate the A, E, & I from the verb endings and you're left with this:
io - vo
tu - vi
lui/lei - va
noi - vamo
voi - vate
loro - vano
So if you're not one for doing a lot of memorizing, just remember those 6 verb endings and remember that for ARE verbs you put an A in front of the ending; for ERE verbs you put an E in front of the ending, and for IRE verbs you put an I in front of the ending. See how it works? Just trying to show you more than one way of remembering the verb endings ;)
Alrighty then, let's now conjugate some ARE, ERE, and IRE verbs using these verb endings we listed out above!
Mangiare - to eat (one of my favorite verbs in Italian - have you noticed I use it all the time in my videos?)
io mangiavo - I used to eat
tu mangiavi - you used to eat
lui/lei mangiava - he/she used to eat
noi mangiavamo - we used to eat
voi mangiavate - you guys/all used to eat
loro mangiavano - they used to eat
Let's now take a look at a phrase (still don't know why I didn't include one in the video!! But at least I'm making up for it now):
Mia figlia, Anna, mangiava un cornetto ogni mattina prima di andare a scuola
- My daughter, Anna, used to eat a croissant every morning before going to school
Leggere - to read
io leggevo - I used to read
tu leggevi - you used to read
lui/lei leggeva - he/she used to read
noi leggevamo - we used to read
voi leggevate - you guys/all used to read
loro leggevano - they used to read
Now - before going any further, I'd like to teach you guys how to conjugate AVERE & ESSERE in the Imperfetto because you'll find yourself using them a lot in this tense. Fortunately, Avere is regular in the Imperfetto. But as always, Essere is irregular. Don't be frightened by the thought of irregular verbs, though. Being irregular just means a verb doesn't follow the typical, cookie-cutter pattern that all regular verbs follow. But they still follow some "inspired" pattern, as I like to put it.
Avere - to have
io avevo - I used to have
tu avevi - you used to have
lui/lei aveva - he/she used to have
noi avevamo - we used to have
voi avevate - you guys/all used to have
loro avevano - they used to have
Essere - to be
io ero - I used to be
tu eri - you used to be
lui/lei era - he/she used to be
noi eravamo - we used to be
voi eravate - you guys/all used to be
loro erano - they used to be
Okay, back to a phrase with Leggere used in the Imperfetto.
Mia mamma mi leggeva i libri di Disney ogni notte
- My mom used to read Disney books to me every night
You could also say,
Quando ero piccolo, mia mamma mi leggeva i libri di Disney ogni notte
- When I was little, my mom used to read Disney books to me every night
Quando avevo cinque anni, mio padre mi leggeva i libri di Harry Potter.
- When I was five years old, my dad used to read Harry Potter books to me.
Now, why does "ero" mean "was" and not "used to be"? That's because it wouldn't make sense in English to use "used to" twice in a sentence. When making translations, we oftentimes find ourselves seeking equivalents that make the most sense in a language. Because it is not the literal translation that always matters, but the message that we're trying to get across.
Dormire - to sleep
io dormivo - I used to sleep
tu dormivi - you used to sleep
lui/lei dormivi - he/she used to sleep
noi dormivamo - we used to sleep
voi dormivate - you guys/all used to sleep
loro dormivano - they used to sleep
I miei cani dormivano per tutta la notte quando erano piccoli
- My dogs used to sleep through the whole night when they were small/little
In the video I gave this example:
Il bambino piangeva sempre quando era piccolo / Piangeva sempre il bambino quando era piccolo
- The baby used to always cry when he was little
So this is my lesson on the Italian Imperfect Tense! I hope you guys learned a lot and enjoyed this post! Have fun learning Italian and always remember to SPREAD THE LOVE!! :)
p.s. I used Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns in my examples. If you need help on those, check out these two videos - I'll also link the blog posts below!
Direct Object Pronouns
Blog post: http://weilatom.blogspot.com/2015/03/italian-direct-object-pronouns.html
Indirect Object Pronouns:
Blog post: http://weilatom.blogspot.com/2015/08/learn-italian-indirect-object-pronouns.html