Clarifying using depuis in the negative

JasonC1Kwiziq community member

Clarifying using depuis in the negative

Does 'nous ne sommes pas là depuis longtemps' mean 'we have been here, but not for long', or 'we have been absent for a long time'?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Jason !

The first one is correct: "We have been here but not for long.".

À bientôt !
JasonC1Kwiziq community member
Thanks Aurélie. This is super weird to me because it seems like in the Le Présent construction, it's almost like the negation applies more to the duration rather than the action. Nous n'avons pas été là depuis 1998 means "We have not been here since 1998; or, we have been absent since 1998". Does "Nous ne sommes pas là depuis trois minutes" mean "we were absent for 3 minutes (but are now here)", or "We have been here, but not not for 3 minutes"? Or is perhaps longtemps a special case? Thoroughly confused! Thanks for answering our questions!
KathyB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Hi Jason, I'm just learning this construction too but thought I'd try and address your question. To me, the present tense makes sense as "nous ne sommes pas là depuis longtemps" literally translates (in bad English) to "we aren't here since long". Implying we got here not long ago. I'm certain "depuis longtemps" is a special case, and don't think "Nous ne sommes pas là depuis trois minutes" is correct. The lesson above states that If we used Le Présent with depuis, it would make it sound like the action "keeps on stopping" during the given length of time. We need to use the past tense, or the present but with "ne... plus" Hope this helps.

Clarifying using depuis in the negative

Does 'nous ne sommes pas là depuis longtemps' mean 'we have been here, but not for long', or 'we have been absent for a long time'?

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