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Italian Imperfect Tense

Understanding the Italian Imperfect Tense


The imperfect tense (imperfetto) is formed by adding the same endings to all three conjugations. The only difference is the typical vowel of the infinitive. For details, see the table below.

The imperfect is much more frequently used in Italian than in English. It expresses the English "used to" and is used to describe actions or conditions that lasted an indefinite time in the past. It's also used to express an habitual action in the past and to describe time, age, and weather in the past.

Some adverbial expressions that are commonly used with the imperfect tense include:

a volte (at times)
continuamente (continuously)
giorno dopo giorno (day in and day out)
ogni tanto (once in a while)
sempre (always)
spesso spesso (again and again)
tutti i giorni (every day)

Here are a few examples of the imperfetto:

Giocavo a calcio ogni pomeriggio. (I played soccer every afternoon.)
Sempre credevano tutto. (They always believed everything.)
Volevamo andare in Italia. (We wanted to go to Italy.)
Il cielo era sempre blu. (The sky was always blue.)

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