Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb distinguer

Introduction to the verb distinguer

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The English translation of the French verb “distinguer” is “to distinguish.” The infinitive form “distinguer” is pronounced as “dee-stahn-geh.”

The verb “distinguer” originates from the Latin word “distinguere,” which means “to separate” or “to distinguish.” In everyday French, “distinguer” is most often used in the imparfait tense to describe ongoing or habitual actions in the past.

Here are three examples of “distinguer” used in the imparfait tense with their respective English translations:

  1. Quand j’étais enfant, je distinguais facilement les couleurs primaires. (When I was a child, I could easily distinguish primary colors.)
  2. Nous distinguions clairement les voix des différents chanteurs dans la chorale. (We could clearly distinguish the voices of the different singers in the choir.)
  3. Pendant la soirée, on distinguait à peine les étoiles à cause de la pollution lumineuse. (During the evening, we could barely distinguish the stars due to light pollution.)

In these examples, “distinguer” is used to express the ability or action of distinguishing or differentiating between colors, voices, or stars.

Table of the Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of distinguer

Pronoun Conjugation Short Example English Translation
je distinguais Je distinguais les couleurs. I was distinguishing the colors.
tu distinguais Tu distinguais les saveurs. You were distinguishing the flavors.
il distinguait Il distinguait les formes. He was distinguishing the shapes.
elle distinguait Elle distinguait les sons. She was distinguishing the sounds.
on distinguait On distinguait les détails. We were distinguishing the details.
nous distinguions Nous distinguions les nuances. We were distinguishing the nuances.
vous distinguiez Vous distinguiez les parfums. You were distinguishing the scents.
ils distinguaient Ils distinguaient les objets. They were distinguishing the objects.
elles distinguaient Elles distinguaient les personnes. They were distinguishing the people.

Other Conjugations for Distinguer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Distinguer – 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 distinguer. Still in a learning mood? Check out another TOTALLY random French verb imparfait conjugation!

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