black friday cyber monday last chance to save 25% on all packages »

Conjugate être in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense)

In L'Imparfait, almost all the verbs follow the same pattern of conjugation. See Conjugate regular verbs in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense).

However (as usual!), the verb être (to be) is slightly irregular.

Conjugation of ÊTRE (to be) in L'Imparfait in French

j' étais
tu étais
il/elle/on était
nous étions
vous étiez
ils/elles étaient

Note that être has an irregular stem - ét- - followed by the regular endings in L'Imparfait.

Être in L'Imparfait is used in a variety of ways where we use very different tenses in English.

Here are some examples:

J'étais déjà mariée quand j'avais 20 ans.I was already married when I was 20.

Tu étais rayonnante pendant ta grossesse.You were beaming during your pregnancy.

C'était le plus beau jour de ma vie.It was the most beautiful day of my life.

Nous étions en vacances lorsqu'ils nous ont cambriolés.We were on holidays when they robbed us.

Vous étiez déjà amoureux à cette époque ?Were you already in love at that time?

Ils étaient meilleurs amis cette année-là.They were best friends that year.


When to use the French Imperfect Tense (L'Imparfait)

Expressing continuing action in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense) 

Expressing habits or repeated actions in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense) 

Describing and expressing opinions in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense)

Want to make sure your French sounds confident? We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Quand elle était petite, ma sœur était la chouchoute de la maîtresse.When she was little, my sister was the [primary school] teacher's pet.
Tu étais rayonnante pendant ta grossesse.You were beaming during your pregnancy.
Ils étaient meilleurs amis cette année-là.They were best friends that year.
J'étais déjà mariée quand j'avais 20 ans.I was already married when I was 20.
Vous étiez déjà amoureux à cette époque ?Were you already in love at that time?
Nous étions en vacances lorsqu'ils nous ont cambriolés.We were on holidays when they robbed us.
C'était le plus beau jour de ma vie.It was the most beautiful day of my life.
Getting that for you now...