FR: after that, I lived with my mother

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by zapspan, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    I would like to know if I should use the passé composé or l'imparfait for the verb "habiter" in the following context:

    Quand j'avais 10 ans, mes parents ont divorcé, et après ça, j'{habitais/ai habité} avec seulement ma mère.

    I would imagine that "ai habité" expresses the change in situation, but "habitais" expresses the new ongoing situation in the past.

    This is an excerpt from a student's composition; he does not still live with just his mother, so the "new situation" above only lasted a certain amount of time [although he does not explicitly state for how long, which would then require the passé composé I believe].

    Merci d'avance.
  2. Lacuzon

    Lacuzon Senior Member

    French - France

    You are right, passé composé fits better.
  3. Vektus

    Vektus Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    I also want to ask a question about this example. Is passé composé used here because of "après ça", some point of reference?
    Can I nevertheless use imparfait if I want to express for some reasons the continuous action?
  4. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Once again, the appropriate tense depends on the exact context, especially on what comes next. Without further context, the only thing we can say is that both tenses are possible but the passé composé is more likely.
  5. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    The student in question had this as the following sentence: "J'ai habité de cette façon pendant 10 ans." It seems to me that he ought to combine the sentences and just say "et après ça, j'ai habité avec seulement ma mère pendant 10 ans."

    Given the "pendant 10 ans", one would surely use the passé composé, right?

    Qu'en pensez-vous?
  6. Lacuzon

    Lacuzon Senior Member

    French - France
    Yes, you're right.
  7. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Merci, Lacuzon.

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