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imparfait: idiomatic uses
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1. suggestions
  2. wishes

The imperfect tense (l'imparfait) has two primary uses: to describe on-going actions or states of being in the past, and to state habitual actions in the past. The imparfait also has several idiomatic uses found in the following contexts:

si on achetait une harley-davidson ... suggestions
The imparfait is used to suggest an action in phrases beginning with Si on ... ?

Tammy: Si on achetait une grosse Suburban?   Tammy: What if we bought a big Suburban?
(note: 'on' is often used in the sense of 'nous')
Tex: Si on achetait une Harley Davidson?   Tex: What about buying a Harley Davidson?

The imparfait is used to express wishes such as 'If only we didn't have a test this week!' The French equivalent structure, si + imparfait, may, or may not, contain the adverb seulement:

Tex: Si (seulement) on avait plus d'argent!   Tex: If (only) we had more money!
Tammy: Ah, si (seulement) mes parents nous prêtaient de l'argent!   Tammy: If only my parents would lend us some money!

Note that the question mark at the end of the sentence indicates a suggestion, and the exclamation mark a wish. In spoken French, however, you have to rely on context and intonation to distinguish between wish and suggestion. Listen to the difference in intonation between these two sentences:

Tammy: Si je me faisais tatouer?   Tammy: What if I got tattooed?
Tex: Si seulement je pouvais avoir une moto!   Tex: If only I could have a motorcycle!

For other uses of si + imparfait, see si clauses + conditional. The imparfait also occurs in idiomatic uses with depuis and venir de.


fill in the blanks
Formulate wishes by using 'si' plus the imparfait and the subject indicated in parentheses. Place an exclamation point at the end of each sentence.
1. Regarder une vidéo (on)

2. Etre plus mince (je)

3. Etre déjà en vacances (nous)

4. Venir danser avec moi (tu)

5. Penser à moi (Tex)'

6. Avoir plus de temps (je)

7. Inviter des amis à la maison (vous)

8. Se marier (on)

9. Aller à Barton Springs (nous)

10. Se trouver plus près d'Austin (Opelousas)

11. Ne pas boire d'insecticide (Corey)

12. Ne pas être snob (les tatous)