Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Introduction to the verb déceler

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The English translation of the French verb “déceler” is “to detect” or “to uncover”. The pronunciation of the infinitive form “déceler” is [de-se-le].

The word “déceler” has its origins in the Latin word “decernere”, meaning “to decide” or “to judge”. In everyday French, “déceler” is commonly used in the imparfait tense to describe ongoing or repeated actions in the past. It is often used when discussing detective work, investigations, or the act of discovering something hidden or secret.

Here are three examples of the usage of “déceler” in the imparfait tense with their English translations:

  1. Jour après jour, il décelait les mensonges de son collègue. (Day after day, he would detect his colleague’s lies.)
  2. Pendant l’enquête, les détectives décelaient de nouveaux indices chaque fois qu’ils visitaient la scène du crime. (During the investigation, the detectives would uncover new clues every time they visited the crime scene.)
  3. Elle décelait une pointe de tristesse dans son regard chaque fois qu’il parlait de son passé. (She would detect a hint of sadness in his gaze every time he spoke about his past.)

These examples showcase the ongoing or repeated nature of the verb “déceler” in the imparfait tense, indicating the action of detection over a period of time or in different instances.

Table of the Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of déceler

Pronoun Conjugation Short Example English Translation
je décelais Je décelais ses mensonges. I was detecting his lies.
tu décelais Tu décelais les erreurs. You were detecting the mistakes.
il décelait Il décelait le problème. He was detecting the problem.
elle décelait Elle décelait la vérité. She was detecting the truth.
on décelait On décelait des indices. We were detecting clues.
nous décelions Nous décelions les fraudes. We were detecting the frauds.
vous déceliez Vous déceliez les défauts. You were detecting the flaws.
ils décelaient Ils décelaient les secrets. They were detecting the secrets.
elles décelaient Elles décelaient les intentions. They were detecting the intentions.

Other Conjugations for Déceler.

Le Present (Present Tense) Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler (You’re reading it right now!)

Passé Simple (Simple Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Passé Composé (Present Perfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Futur Simple (Simple Future) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Futur Proche (Near Future) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Plus-que-parfait (Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Passé Antérieur (Past Anterior) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Futur Antérieur (Future Anterior) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Subjonctif Présent (Subjunctive Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Subjonctif Passé (Subjunctive Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Subjonctif Imparfait (Subjunctive Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait (Subjunctive Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Conditionnel Présent (Conditional Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Conditionnel Passé (Conditional Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Conditionnel Passé II (Conditional Past II) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

L’impératif Présent (Imperative Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

L’impératif Passé (Imperative Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

L’infinitif Présent (Infinitive Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

L’infinitif Passé (Infinitive Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Le Participe Présent (Present Participle) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

Le Participe Passé (Past Participle) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb déceler

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Déceler – About the French Imparfait Tense

The French imparfait tense, often called the imperfect tense in English, is used to describe actions or states in the past. It’s primarily used to provide background information, set the scene, or describe habitual or ongoing actions in the past.

NOTE: To take a deep dive into all the French tenses then see our article on Mastering French Tense Conjugation.

Formation of the Imparfait Tense

To form the imparfait tense in French, you typically take the present tense nous form of the verb, drop the -ons ending, and add specific endings based on the verb group (regular -er, -ir, -re verbs) or use irregular forms for certain verbs.  

For regular -er verbs:

Take the infinitive form (e.g., parler, finir, rendre) Remove the -er ending Add the imparfait endings: -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient 

For regular -ir verbs

Take the infinitive form (e.g., choisir, grandir, finir) Remove the -ir ending Add the imparfait endings: -issais, -issais, -issait, -issions, -issiez, -issaient 

For regular -re verbs

Take the infinitive form (e.g., vendre, attendre, entendre) Remove the -re ending Add the imparfait endings: -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient

Common Everyday Usage Patterns

Description of Past Habits

The imparfait is often used to describe habitual actions or situations in the past. For example: “Quand j’étais enfant, je jouais au football tous les jours.” (When I was a child, I used to play football every day.) 

Background Information

It’s used to provide background information or set the stage for a main event in the past. For instance: “Il faisait beau ce jour-là.” (The weather was nice that day.) 

Mental and Emotional States

It’s employed to express emotions, thoughts, or physical sensations in the past. For example: “J’étais content quand il est arrivé.” (I was happy when he arrived.) 

Ongoing Actions

The imparfait describes actions that were in progress or happening when something else occurred in the past. For instance: “Je lisais un livre quand le téléphone a sonné.” (I was reading a book when the phone rang.)

Points to Note About the Imparfait Tense

Passé Composé vs. Imparfait

The imparfait and passé composé (a compound past tense) are often used together to express the completion of an action in the past (passé composé) and provide context or background (imparfait). For example: “Il regardait la télévision quand son ami est arrivé.” (He was watching TV when his friend arrived.) 

Conditional

The imparfait is used as the base for forming the conditional mood in French. For instance, “Je mangerais” (I would eat) is formed from “je mangeais” (I was eating). 

Si Clauses

In hypothetical or “if” clauses (si clauses), the imparfait is often used to express a condition in the past. For example: “Si j’avais de l’argent, j’achèterais une nouvelle voiture.” (If I had money, I would buy a new car.) 

Narration

In storytelling or writing, the imparfait is frequently used to set the scene and describe ongoing actions while the passé composé is used for specific events or actions that interrupted the ongoing ones.
Understanding the French imperfect tense is crucial for effective communication in French. Without it, your conversations will always live in the present!

I hope you enjoyed this article on the verb déceler. Still in a learning mood? Check out another TOTALLY random French verb imparfait conjugation!

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