This episode’s audio doesn’t exist, and we have technology to blame (poof! gone into cyberspace!). Instead of listening to this episode, feel free to use the notes below to learn more about the topic. And if you’re like, “CHER, NO. I NEED THIS EPISODE,” then let me know in the comments below. I’ll put it on my list to record again!
According to one of Dianne Hale’s, the author of La Bella Lingua, Italian teachers, the imperfect tense is “the most Italian of the tenses for unfinished business.”
It’s the tense you use to describe how you and your friends used to go to the mall every Saturday morning dressed di tutto punto (to the nines) to impress every person who might see you.
The tense you use when you say, “Well, when I was 8, we used to…”
Or in a more practical tense, you can l’imperfetto (the imperfect) to describe:
— Weather in the past (Windy, rainy, etc.)
— A specific time in the past (7 AM)
— How someone was feeling or thinking (Worried, happy, sad, etc.)
— An action that someone was doing while another action had been completed or was still happening (Eating while she left)
And lucky for you (&me!) all of the endings for -are, -ere, and -ire verbs ARE THE SAME!
Sometimes I’m just so pleased with conformity.
Understand though that this isn’t how it’s typically taught. You’re supposed to take the entire ending off and end up with just the root (Cantare –> Cant) in order to make the conjugation. But for my memory’s sake, this way is easier for me. You just keep keep the letter before the -RE on and add the same endings.
Endings for -ARE, -ERE, and -IRE verbs:
— VO — VAMO
— VI — VATE
— VA (makes me think of va-va-voom ;] — VANO
And I would never leave you hanging without some examples to make sure you really understand the concept.
— Cantare (to sing) –> Cantavo, Cantavi, Cantava, Cantavamo, Cantavate, Cantavano
— Avere (to have) –> Avevo, Avevi, Aveva, Avevamo, Avevate, Avevano
— Divertire (to amuse, entertain) –> Divertivo, Divertivi, Divertiva, Divertivamo, Divertivate, Divertivano
1.) Ci abitavamo da sette anni. – We have been living there for 7 years.
2.) Da bambina, leggevo tutti i giorni. – When I was a kid, I read everyday.
3.) Ero stanca. – I was tired.
4.) Mentre mangiava, Justin Bieber cantava. – While she was eating, Justin Bieber was singing.
But what about the irregular verbs!?
Essere – to be
— Ero – I was
— Eri – You were
— Era – He/she/it was
— Eravamo – We were
— Eravate – You all were
— Erano – They were
Fare – to do/make
— Facevo – I did
— Facevi – You did
— Faceva – He/she/it did
— Facevamo – We did
— Facevate – You all did
— Facevano – They did
Dire – to say/tell
— Dicevo – I said
— Dicevi – You said
— Diceva – He/she/it said
— Dicevamo – We said
— Dicevate – You all said
— Dicevano – They said
Bere – to drink
— Bevevo – I drank
— Bevevi – You drank
— Beveva – He/she/it drank
— Bevevamo – We drank
— Bevevate – You all drank
— Bevevano – They drank
These are the most important ones for you to know. The others you’ll learn later.
Un po’ più (a little more)
5.) Il cane aveva sete. – The dog was thirsty.
6.) Erano le nove di mattina. – It was nine in the morning.
7.) Iera sera, nevicava! – Last night, it snowed!
Some phrases you’ll hear with this tense
There are some phrases that you’ll hear always preceding the imperfect. In order to get used to using and hearing the imperfect, take a look at them.
— Ogni tanto – Once in a while
— Sempre – Always
— Tutti i giorni – Every day
— Continuamente – Continuously
— Mentre – While
Do some detective work for vocabulary, and tell me what you always used to do when you were 7 years old (aveva sette anni).
Skiing? Skateboarding? Rollerblading?
Use this setup:
– Quando avevo sette anni... – When I was 7 years old…
– Quando avevo sette anni, scrivevo le storie tutti i giorni. – When I was 7 years old, I used to write stories everyday.
Your task from the podcast episode
Conjugate the verb Essere in the Imperfect tense