Regular verbs in the imperfect tense

This is how regular verbs are formed in the imperfect tense (was doing, used to do, etc.):

Io guardavo
Tu guardavi
Lui/lei guardava
Noi guardavamo
Voi guardavate
Loro guardavano
Io mettevo
Tu mettevi
Lui/lei metteva
Noi mettevamo
Voi mettevate
Loro mettevano
Io sentivo
Tu sentivi
Lui/lei sentiva
Noi sentivamo
Voi sentivate
Loro sentivano

We use the imperfect tense for the following:

  • To describe actions or habits that occurred in the past, without specifying when they started or finished:

Carlotta aveva una casa molto piccola. avere, imperfetto

Carlotta had a very small house.

Tutte le estati, il dott. Mancini andava in vacanza in una spiaggia nudista. andare, imperfetto

Every summer, Dr. Mancini used to go on holiday to a nudist beach.

  • To describe people, things, animals or situations in the past:

Quando era più giovane, Magda si tingeva sempre i capelli di blu. tingersi, imperfetto

When she was younger, Magda always used to dye her hair blue.

A Milano, Anna viveva nel quartiere dei Navigli. vivere, imperfetto

In Milan, Anna used to live in the Navigli district.

Note: some of the words and expressions we use the imperfect tense with are sempre (always), normalmente (normally), di solito (usually), mentre (while) and quando avevo X anni (when I was X years old).

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