FR: La France célébrait sa fête nationale hier - imparfait


Senior Member
Malaisie (English)
Cet article utilise l'imparfait dans le phrase:

La France célébrait sa fête nationale hier.

Pourquoi l'imparfait puisque cette fête est un événement fini ?

Merci d'avance.
  • Anne345

    Senior Member
    L'imparfait est aussi utilisé pour planter le décor sur lequel vont apparaître les événements essentiels.


    Senior Member
    Could anyone provide more (and readily digestible) information, please?

    Now I think I know the basic uses of the imparfait and the passé composé and when to use which (having even ventured my own mini-theory on this forum). But Xanana's example is anything but basic!

    Consulting my Précis de grammaire française, I found this "emploi particulier":

    Un fait qui a eu lieu à un moment précis du passé:

    Le 6 juin 1994, les Américains débarquaient en Normandie.

    Why oh why? Isn't it enough to have the passé composé, the passé simple, and even the présent de narration to choose from ? Apprently, non !

    As if that wasn't bad enough, I also found this example from Elroy:

    J'étais (not j'ai été) surpris quand je t'ai vu.

    To my admittedly non-native and poorly-trained eye and ear, here's a clear case for the passé composé if there ever was one.

    Please, kind and resourceful francophones out there, it's high time you helped us put this past-tense quandary where it belongs, in the history books !


    Senior Member
    I wouldn't agree with Elroy's use of the imparfait here.
    I would sure use the passé composé
    J'ai été surpris quand je t'ai vu
    But maybe it was in a very specific context (I couldn't find the thread it was taken out from as you gave a link to a single post).

    I'm afraid I can't add much to your comprehension regarding these sentences
    (1) La France célébrait sa fête nationale hier
    (2) Le 6 Juin 1944, les Alliés débarquaient en Normandie
    Yes, for (2) you can use either the imparfait, the passé composé, the passé simple and even the présent de narration. The most neutral and standard version would be one with the passé composé. Using alternative tenses would be a matter of style I guess. (more lively with the présent).
    Also note that the présent (de narration) and the passé simple are impossible in (1). Probably because of the word "hier". I also think that you can only use the présent de narration when you're describing a series of successive events. Just one event isn't enough.