In this lesson, we will learn the imperfect tense for active indicative verbs.


The imperfect tense is a past progressive tense. This means that the action happened in the past but has not been completed yet. It is also used to describe a continuous action in the past as opposed to a single, completed event. It is translated into English as “was/were -ing” or “used to X.”

Some examples in English are:

I was driving to work when the accident happened.

I used to go to school every day but I have now graduated.

In the first example, the past action of “driving” was still occurring when an accident happened. In the second example, “used to go to school” was a continuous action in the past vs. the one-time event of graduating.


In Gaulish, the verbal root remains unchanged when forming the imperfect tense. Thus, the imperfect verbal root is the same as the root of the present tense. To designate the verb is imperfect tense, the imperfect endings for each particular class of verbs are added to the verbal root.

The imperfect indicative active endings for each verb class are listed below.

AI Verbs

nessānna I was approach
nessātās you were approaching
nessāto he/she/it was approaching
nessāmes we were approaching
nessātē you (all) were approaching
nessānto they were approaching


arcinna I was asking
arcītās you were asking
arcīto he/she/it was asking
arcīmes we are asking
arcītē you (all) were asking
arcīnto they were asking

BI Verbs

auedonna I was making
auedetās you were making
auedeto he/she/it was making
auedomes we were making
auedetē you (all) were making
auedonto they were making


garionna I was summoning
garietās you were summoning
garieto he/she/it was summoning
gariomes we were summoning
garietē you (all) were summoning
garionto they were summoning


danconna I was showing
dancetās you were showing
danceto he/she/it was showing
dancomes we were showing
dancetē you (all) were showing
danconto they were showing

BIV Verbs

barnanna I was judging
barnatās you were judging
barnato he/she/it was judging
barnames we were judging
barnatē you (all) were judging
barnanto they were judging

BV Verbs

linunna I was flow
linutās you were flowing
linuto he/she/it was flowing
linumes we were flowing
linutē you (all) were flowing
linunto they were flowing

NOTE: The only difference between the present and imperfect tenses for the 2nd person plural is the final -ē (long E) for the imperfect and the final -e (short E) for the present. This is why it is important to use macrons (long marks) when applicable.


Going forward, we will be using a Gaulish dictionary for the vocabulary that we don’t already know. This will help you become familiar with looking up words in a Gaulish dictionary.


Translate the following sentences into English.

1. bardoi canonto molātūs dēuobos ad ulidū rīges.
2. rēdonna epon isaron ad treban atros mou.
3. abonā reneto ācus samū extos nu renet liscā.

Click for answer key.

1. The bards were singing praises to the Gods at the feast of the king.
2. I was riding a swift horse to the home of my father.
3. The river was flowing fast during the summer but now it flows slow.

Translate the following sentences into Gaulish. For some of the English vocabulary below, there is more than one Gaulish word with the English meaning. Choose the best Gaulish word that conveys what the English means and how it is being used in the sentence.

1. I used to live with my mother but now I live alone. (Feminine Subject)
2. The wheels of the wagon were becoming fragile because they were old.
3. It was snowing yesterday and today the sun is shining.

Click for answer key.

1. atrebânna con matri mou extos nu atrebâiû santrâ.
2. rotoi uegni dîbuionto briscoi pon eiânt senoi.
3. sniuetoid dês etic sindiû sonnos candet.