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Imperfect Tense
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The Imperfect Tense

The Imperfect tense shows a repeated, ongoing, or continuous past action.  It is kind of like background scenery.  It shows what was happening for a period of time. 


I was walking to the store last week.

I used to like broccoli.

These examples show that the action took place over a period of time versus one single incident in the past.  To form the imperfect tense in Latin, follow these steps.

  1. Find the infinitive (remember, it ends in -re)
  2. Remove the -re (Now you have the present stem)
  3. Add the Imperfect Tense endings.
  singular plural
1st person -bam -bamus
2nd person -bas -batis
3rd person -bat -bant

As you can see, every ending has -ba-.  This is called the tense indicator.  The present tense doesn't have one, the future tense uses -bi-, and the imperfect uses -ba-.  Also, notice that the -o is no longer used to show the 1st person singular.  Here, instead, you use -m.  This is important.  If the -o were used, it would make the -a- disappear, and then we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and the future tense. 

The verb laudo, laudare, laudavi = to praise in the imperfect tense.

  singular plural
1st person laudabam I used to praise, I was praising lauda we used to praise, were praising
2nd person laudabas you used to praise, were praising laudabatis y'all used to praise, were praising
3rd person lauda he, she, it used to praise, was praising laudabant they used to praise, were praising

That is all there is to it.