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6. The imperfect is employed every time we speak of actions, habitually or frequently performed. Ex.

Quand j'étais à Londres, j'allais souvent voir mes amis;

when I was in London, I often went to see my friends; that is to say, I often used to go, or I frequently went, &c.

7. The imperfect is likewise used when we speak of the character or of some inherent and distinctive qualities of persons or things no longer existing. It is also used after the English conjunction if, instead of the conditional, though the verb be preceded by should or would in English. Ex.

Philippe, père d'Alexandre le Grand, était le plus profond politique de son temps;

César avait je ne sais quoi de

grand dans la physionomie; Carthage faisait un prodigieux commerce, par le moyen de ses vaisseaux, qui allaient jusqu'aux Indes; Palmire et Persépolis étaient de grandes et belles villes; S'il venait je le paierais;

George Second était d'une taille plutot petite que moyenne; il avait les yeux très-saillans, le nez grand, et le teint fleuri; il était doux, modéré et humain, sobre et régulier dans sa manière de vivre; il se plaisait dans la pompe, et dans l'appareil militaire; il était naturellement brave; il aimait la guerre comme soldat; il l'étudiait comme une science; et il avait, sur ce sujet, une correspondance établie avec quelques-uns des plus grands généraux que l'Allemagne ait produits;

Philip, the father of Alex

ander the Great, was the deepest politician of his


Cæsar had something noble
in his physiognomy.
Carthage carried on a prodi-
gious trade, by the means
of her ships, which went as
far as the Indies;
Palmyra and Persepolis were
large and fine cities.
If he came, or if he should

come, I would pay him. George the Second was below the middle size of men; he had remarkably prominent eyes, a large nose, and a fair complexion; he was gentle, moderate, and humane; in his way of living, temperate and regular; he delighted in military pomp and display, and was naturally brave: he loved war as a soldier, he studied it as a science; and kept, on this subject, a regular respondence with some of the greatest generals that Germany ever produced.


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Preterite Definite.

8. This tense is used to express an action done at a time determined or specified by an adverb, or some circumstance in the sentence, and so completely accomplished and passed, that nothing more remains of the time in which that action was doing. The time entirely elapsed must be a century, a year, a month, a week, or a day. Ex.

Je fus malade hier pendant
deux heures;

La dernière fois que nous
allâmes le voir, nous eûmes
un accueil favorable;
Vous écrivîtes à votre frère
il y a huit jours ;

Ils essuyèrent de grandes
pertes l'année passée ;

I was ill yesterday for two hours.

the last time we went to see him, we had a favourable reception.

you wrote to your brother eight days ago.

they suffered great losses last


9. The preterite definite is also used when we speak of the actions, virtues, or vices of persons who no longer exist.


César fut cruel envers Cicéron;

Cæsar was cruel towards


10. This tense simply expresses that an action will be done at a time that is not yet come. Ex.

Je vous verrai demain à Londres:

Mon frère vous écrira la semaine prochaine;

I shall see you to-morrow in

my brother will write to you
next week.

11. In French, as well as in English, we sometimes express an action that is to be done instantly by the verb aller, to go, immediately followed by an infinitive. Ex.

Je vais écrire à ma tante;
Je vais partir:

I am going to write to my aunt.
I am going to set out.

Which sentences signify,

Je lui écrirai à l'instant ;

Je partirai dans l'instant ;

I will write to her immediately.

I will set out instantly.

12. When we wish to express that we intend to do a thing, that it is probable we shall do it,—we make use of the verb devoir, in the present of the indicative mood, immediately followed by the verb expressive of the future action in the present of the infinitive, no preposition preceding it. Ex.

Le roi doit partir pour Cheltenham vers le milieu du mois de Juillet, et ne doit revenir qu'à la fin du mois d'Août ;

the king is to set out for Cheltenham about the middle of July, and is not to return till the latter end of August.

When we intend to express obligation or necessity, we use the verb devoir in the conditional.


Il devrait faire cela pour vous; he ought to do that for you.

Conditional Present.

13. The conditional expresses that a thing might be, but upon a condition.


Je lirais, si j'avais des livres; Vous auriez la fièvre, si vous mangiez de ce fruit ;

Je serais mortifié s'il perdait son procès ;

I would read if I had books.
you would have a fever if
you were to eat of that

I should be mortified if he lost
his law-suit.

14. It is sometimes used instead of the future, after the conjunction que. Ex.

Il a promis qu'il viendrait ;

he has promised to come, or
that he would come.



Preterite Indefinite, or Compound of the Present.

15. The preterite indefinite is used to express an action past in an indeterminate time, but not very far distant from the time in which we speak. Thus we must say,

J'ai vu Mademoiselle votre I have seen your sister, and sœur, et je lui ai parlé ; spoken to her.

In the above sentence the action is certainly past; but the time when it occurred is not specified.

16. The preterite indefinite is used also to express actions done during a definite space of time, of which there yet remains some part. It is particularly used in speaking of all that has happened or been done during the day. Ex.

Je les ai vus aujourd'hui, et je leur ai parlé.

Les fruits ont très-bien réussi
cette année;

Nous n'avons pas eu beaucoup
de neige cet hiver ;
Il a plu toute cette semaine ;
Nous avons vu d'étranges
choses dans ce siècle;


saw them to-day, and I spoke to them.

fruits have succeeded very well this year.

we have not had much snow
this winter.

it has rained all this week.
we have seen strange things
during this century.

In the above sentences, to day, this year, this week, this winter, &c., express times which are not yet elapsed.

17. To express an action recently passed, we sometimes make use of the verb venir immediately followed by de, the verb expressing the action being in the infinitive mood. Ex.

Je viens de le voir passer ;
Le roi vient d'arriver;

I have just seen him go by. the king has just arrived.

de; the

18. The same tense may be expressed by the verb faire, preceded by the negation ne, and followed by que verb expressing the action comes next, and must be put in the present of the infinitive mood. Ex.

Il ne fait que d'arriver;

Je ne fais que de sortir;

he has but just arrived.

I have but just gone out.

This particle de is here indispensable, because, without it, the expression would have quite another meaning, and would convey the idea of a continuation or of a frequent repetition of the action. Ex.

Vous ne faites que sortir ;
Elle ne fait que jouer et danser;

you do nothing but go out. she does nothing but play and dance.

That is to say, you are incessantly going out; she is incessantly playing and dancing.

Preterite Anterior Definite, or Compound of the Preterite.

19. This tense is used to express an action past, or done before another, which is likewise past. For this reason it is called anterior. It is named definite, not only on account of its being a compound of the preterite definite of the verb avoir, but because it expresses an action done at a time determined by the following sentence, which is the principal object of our attention. Thus when we say, Quand ils eurent achevé de when they had done playing, jouer, ils se mirent à chanter ; they began singing.

we mean, at first, to express that they began singing, and then, that it was not till they had done playing in which case, the action of having done playing is subordinate to their having begun singing; and consequently the latter determines the time of the other.

This tense is hardly ever used except after the following adverbial conjunctions:

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which never precede a preterpluperfect, unless the verb expresses a custom or habit.

20. We must also use the preterite anterior definite when the adverb bientôt, soon, precedes or follows the verb was or had, to express an action or thing which is done and accomplished. Ex.

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