Imperfect tense

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Imperfect tense

Post by spqr »

Wheelock does not make clear( at least to me) when to translate the imperfect as a simple past tense. In many of the answer keys he translates the imperfect as a past when I can't figure out why. There must be some grammar nuance that I am missing.

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Re: Imperfect tense

Post by elduce »

You are right about that. Your translation and insight into the passage comes with experience. I do not know when to translate it as "was/were ____" or simple past tense, but sometimes I use context clues to help me find the best answer.

Perhaps speaking to a Latin teacher or someone outside this forum w/more knowledge on the topic? (or Google it)

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Re: Imperfect tense

Post by Robertus Sum »

I believe that the easiest way to tell if the imperfect can be translated as simple past is whether or not the verb already implies a continuous action. For example: meum canem amabat, can be translated as "I was loving my dog," or rather "I loved my dog," because in English the concept of having loved something is a continuous, or on-going state of being rather than something which happens and then is completed.

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Re: Imperfect tense

Post by Calgacus »

"Was/were" is far from the only option when it comes to translating the imperfect tense though. "Used to" is quite a good rendering in some cases, as well as "began to" when appropriate. You can even use "would" when it implies repeated action in the past ("Well, each morning I would get up at 6 a.m., I would wolf down some breakfast," etc.).

"meum canem amabam" by the way. :)

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Re: Imperfect tense

Post by peterscot423 »

The simplest way to translate imperfect tense to simple past tense. you should used go to, Down to in the place of was and were. This tense show the past action.

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Re: Imperfect tense

Post by aegor »

There are certain verbs in English that essentially have collapsed the imperfect and simple preterite.

For example, only very rarely do we hear, "I was being in error." "Was" in English can imply both continued ("I was an airplane pilot") or simple ("I was embarrassed") aspects. "Was" is NOT properly used for the perfect aspect, however, because "have been" is in wide use.

"Love" is another such example. Basically, if you have heard "was [verb]ing" in English, then you can use that for a translation of the imperfect. If you have not, then use one of the other imperfect translations or use the combined imperfect/preterite form in English.

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Re: Imperfect tense

Post by Victor »

aegor wrote:For example, only very rarely do we hear, "I was being in error."
I've never heard "I was being in error." Maybe they say it in some parts of the world I'm not familiar with.
But I do hear things like "I was being ironic" and "you were being thoughtless" all the time.

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