“Imperfetto” is an Italian past tense. It is “imperfect”, incomplete by definition and doesn’t have an equivalent in English. Listen to the podcast.
We already talked about the imperfetto. This is a simple overview for beginners with podcast and real examples with conjugations.
The imperfetto, as I mentioned in the header, is “imperfect” by definition, meaning that it describes continuous, habitual or interrupted actions in the past, so it’s not a “perfect tense”.
-are –> Quando ero in vacanza, mangiavo il gelato tutti i giorni
-ere –> All’università, leggevo tanti libri
-ire –> Qualche anno fa, non capivo l’italiano
We can simplify and describe some typical situations happening in the past where you can find the imperfetto:
Two actions ongoing simultaneously
- Mentre cucinavo, Laura preparava il tavolo.
In the first case, we can picture the two actions as they happened at the same time. They were ongoing, so the imperfetto makes them incomplete.
An ongoing action and a complete action
- Mentre facevo la doccia, Luigi ha telefonato.
In the second case, there’s an ongoing action (fare la doccia) interrupted by a complete action (telefonare), which started and finished whilst the first one was still incomplete.
A habitual action or condition
- Quando ero studente, andavo spesso ai concerti.
A condition with no connection with the present
- Da bambino, ero molto magro.
A routine in the past
- Lo scorso inverno, guadavo la televisione tutti i giorni.
A complete routine action in the near past
- Oggi avevo una una lezione di inglese.
Quoting someone about a past, present or future action
- Franco ha detto che andava in vacanza in Spagna