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Activity Overview

As with most novels, Candide provides an excellent source for reinforcing grammar and language skills. In particular, the tale contains so many scenes in which characters tell stories that there is particular exposure to the use of the imperfect and preterite. Use the novel’s narration to address the differences between the imparfait and the passé simple. A simple way to do this is to have students pull sentences from the book that make use of a particular tense. Students can then depict the scene and explain why it requires a particular tense. Having them illustrate the scene will require students to spend time putting thought and analysis into a particular grammatical scenario. This provides excellent reinforcement for verb tense instruction. The sample assignment below focuses on the imperfect tense.

Règle / RuleExample / Exemple
Une description "C'était un très beau jeune homme, le visage plein, assez blanc, haut en couleur, le sourcil relevé, l'oeil vif, l'oreille rouge, les lèvres vermeilles, l'air fier, mais d'une fierté qui n'était ni celle d'un Espagnol ni celle d'un jésuite."
Action ou phénomène qui se répète, non achevée"Le baron ne pouvait se lasser d'embrasser Candide, il l'appelait son frère, son sauveur."
Action du passé dont la durée n'est pas définieJ'ai besoin de jeunes allemands pour aller au Paraguay.
Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level --- N/A ---

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

For this assignment, you will focus on the imperfect tense in Candide. In a single scene, find three different sentences containing a verb conjugated in the imparfait. Then, create a three-cell storyboard. Below each cell, write one of the three sentences. In the image square above, depict the sentence, and in the top textbox, list the grammatical rule that makes the imperfect tense appropriate for that particular sentence. See the sample storyboard for an example.

Remember the imparfait is used for the following situations:

  • Past events without a definite ending point
  • Repeated/regular actions in the past
  • Physical or emotional descriptions (time, weather, age, feelings, etc.)
  • Background event that gets interrupted by a new occurrence
  • Wishes or suggestions
  • Conditions in “si” clauses (Si...imparfait...conditionnel)


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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