Introduction to the verb commencer
Get the Subjonctif Imparfait (Subjunctive Imperfect) tense conjugation of commencer. Includes a FREE downloadable reference sheet (no email required). Alternatively if you have a lot of text to check then use our free French Grammar Checker – no registration required!
The English translation of the French verb commencer is “to begin” or “to start.” It is pronounced as “koh-mahn-say.”
The origin of the word commencer can be traced back to the Latin word “cominitiare,” which means “to initiate” or “to begin.” In everyday French, commencer is a common and versatile verb that is used to describe the act of starting or initiating something.
In the Subjonctif Imparfait tense, commencer is used to express a hypothetical or uncertain action that took place in the past. It is usually used in conjunction with the conjunction “que.”
Three examples of commencer in the Subjonctif Imparfait tense are:
Il fallait que je commençasse à travailler plus tôt. (I had to start working earlier.)
Nous souhaitions que la réunion commençât à temps. (We wanted the meeting to start on time.)
Il aurait mieux valu que tu commençasses par les tâches les plus importantes. (It would have been better if you had started with the most important tasks.)
I had to start working earlier.
We wanted the meeting to start on time.
It would have been better if you had started with the most important tasks.
Table of the Subjonctif Imparfait (Subjunctive Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of commencer
|Si je travaillais moins, je commençasse à voyager plus.
|If I worked less, I would start traveling more.
|Si tu venais plus tôt, tu commençasses à apprendre plus.
|If you came earlier, you would start learning more.
|Si il me posait la question, il commençât à comprendre.
|If he asked me the question, he would start to understand.
|Si elle partait maintenant, elle commençât à s’inquiéter.
|If she left now, she would start to worry.
|Si on mangeait plus sainement, on commençât à se sentir mieux.
|If one ate more healthily, one would start to feel better.
|Si nous travaillions ensemble, nous commencions à mieux comprendre.
|If we worked together, we would start to understand better.
|Si vous arrêtiez de discuter, vous commenciez à écouter.
|If you stopped arguing, you would start to listen.
|S’ils partaient demain, ils commencassent à se préparer.
|If they left tomorrow, they would start to get ready.
|Si elles faisaient du sport, elles commencassent à être en forme.
|If they did sports, they would start to be in shape.
Other Conjugations for Commencer.
Le Present (Present Tense) Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Imparfait (Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Passé Simple (Simple Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Passé Composé (Present Perfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Futur Simple (Simple Future) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Futur Proche (Near Future) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Plus-que-parfait (Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Passé Antérieur (Past Anterior) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Futur Antérieur (Future Anterior) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Subjonctif Présent (Subjunctive Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Subjonctif Passé (Subjunctive Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Subjonctif Imparfait (Subjunctive Imperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer (this article)
Subjonctif Plus-que-parfait (Subjunctive Pluperfect) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Conditionnel Présent (Conditional Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
Conditionnel Passé (Conditional Past) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
L’impératif Présent (Imperative Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
L’infinitif Présent (Infinitive Present) Tense Conjugation of the French Verb commencer
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Commencer – About the French Subjonctif Imparfait (Subjunctive Imperfect) Tense
The French Subjonctif Imparfait, also known as the imperfect subjunctive, is a verb tense used to express actions, states, or conditions that are uncertain, subjective, or hypothetical in the past. It is used in a variety of situations, including wishes, doubts, emotions, and polite requests, and often occurs in dependent clauses following certain expressions and conjunctions.
To form the Subjonctif Imparfait, you typically start with the third person plural (ils/elles) form of the verb in the imparfait (imperfect) tense. Then, you remove the -ent ending and add the appropriate endings:
– For regular -er verbs: je -sse, tu -sses, il/elle/on -t, nous -ssions, vous -ssiez, ils/elles -ssent.
– For regular -ir and -re verbs: je -sse, tu -sses, il/elle/on -t, nous -ssions, vous -ssiez, ils/elles -ssent.
Common Everyday Usage Patterns
1. Expressing Doubt or Uncertainty: The Subjonctif Imparfait is used to express doubt or uncertainty about something that happened in the past.
Example: Il doutait qu’elle vînt à la fête. (He doubted that she came to the party.)
2. Wishes and Desires: It is used to express wishes or desires in the past.
Example: J’aurais aimé que tu fusses là. (I would have liked you to be there.)
3. Hypothetical Scenarios: The Subjonctif Imparfait is employed in hypothetical situations in the past.
Example: Si j’eusse su, j’aurais agi différemment. (If I had known, I would have acted differently.)
4. Polite Requests and Suggestions: It is used to make polite requests and suggestions in a formal or polite tone.
Example: Il souhaitait que vous vinssiez lui rendre visite. (He wished that you would come to visit him.)
Interactions with Other Tenses
The Subjonctif Imparfait is often used in dependent clauses with the Subjonctif Présent in the main clause, especially in complex sentences.
Example: Il faut que tu manges bien pour que tu aies de l’énergie. (You need to eat well so that you have energy.)
Indicatif Passé Composé
The Subjonctif Imparfait can be used alongside the Indicatif Passé Composé to indicate a contrast between a factual event and a hypothetical one.
Example: Il est parti avant que tu ne fusses arrivé. (He left before you arrived.)
The Subjonctif Imparfait is often used with the Conditional to express unreal or hypothetical situations in the past.
Example: J’aurais pu le faire si j’eusse eu plus de temps. (I could have done it if I had had more time.)
It can also be used with the Conditional Perfect to express unreal or hypothetical past events that would have occurred before other past events.
Example: J’aurais su s’il eût partagé l’information. (I would have known if he had shared the information.)
The Subjonctif Imparfait is a relatively complex tense, and its usage depends on the context and the verbs involved. It is essential to practice and become familiar with common expressions and contexts where this tense is appropriate to use it effectively in everyday French communication.
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