Il y a + duration = Ago (expressions of time)

Look at these sentences:

J'ai mangé il y a une heure.
I ate an hour ago.

Il est venu à Londres il y a cinq ans.
He came to London five years ago.

Ils sont arrivés il y a trois jours.
They arrived three days ago.



Notice that to say "ago" in French, you use the expression "il y a" followed by the time duration.

You cannot say ''un mois il y a'' (unless you're Yoda!)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'ai mangé il y a une heure.
I ate an hour ago.


La bataille de Waterloo a eu lieu il y a 200 ans.
The battle of Waterloo took place 200 years ago.


Ils sont arrivés il y a trois jours.
They arrived three days ago.


Il est venu à Londres il y a cinq ans.
He came to London five years ago.


Q&A Forum 5 questions, 10 answers

Quel est le diffirence entre pendant, depuis et IL ya ?

Asked 1 month ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

Je serai libre entre midi et deux heures de l'après-midi. -- I am free between noon and 2pm.

Je lisais pendant des heures. -- I used to read for hours.

J'habite en France depuis une année. -- I've been living in France for one year.

J'ai déménagé en France il y a une année. -- I moved to France one year ago.

I hope these example sentences get you thinking in the right direction.

Ok thanks alot 

Quel est le diffirence entre pendant, depuis et IL ya ?

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I did not understand the phrase: nous t'avons rendu visite il and a une semaine. Can you help me please? Thanks.

Asked 5 months ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Dyrce !

"Nous t'avons rendu visite il y a une semaine."

Literally : "We you gave a visit a week ago."

t' = you as an indirect object   -> We gave the visit to you.

rendre visite à  [quelqu'un] = to visit [someone] 
See the related lesson : https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/visiter-versus-rendre-visite-a-visiting-places-versus-visiting-people

il y a + [duration] which is the subject of this lesson.

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

I did not understand the phrase: nous t'avons rendu visite il and a une semaine. Can you help me please? Thanks.

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Purpose of rendu

'Nous t'avons rendu visite il y a une semaine.'

What is the purpose of rendu in this sentence if visiter can be used as a verb? Possible to say “Nous t’avons visité il y a une semaine”

Asked 10 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Lianne,

In French the verb 'visiter' means 'to visit' in the sense of doing a tour of,  so it used for places of interest, countries, towns, houses you might buy etc...

For visiting people you would use the verb 'rendre visite à quelqu'un' , hence the word 'rendu' as it is the past participle of 'rendre'.

Take a look at the following lesson which will give you lots of examples of each -

Visiter vs rendre visite à = To visit a place vs a person

Hope this helps!

Super! Merci Ceçile!

Purpose of rendu

'Nous t'avons rendu visite il y a une semaine.'

What is the purpose of rendu in this sentence if visiter can be used as a verb? Possible to say “Nous t’avons visité il y a une semaine”

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CBA2

Why is it not "J'ai habité DEPUIS cinq ans"?

This is what I seem to recall having been taught at school (admittedly, a very long time ago!).
Asked 2 years ago
CBA2
Sorry - meant to type "J'ai habité ici DEPUIS cinq ans."!!!
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour CB ! "Depuis" implies that the action is not yet finished, it is still ongoing in the present (you're still living there), which in French is incompatible with Le Passé Composé. This tense only refers to actions that are past and over with in French, similarly to the Simple Past in English (I lived there). If you wanted to express that you lived there for five years, but it's over now, you wouldn't use the word "depuis" but "pendant" (during), as such: "J'ai habité à Paris pendant cinq ans, mais maintenant j'habite à Londres." I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
CBA2
Thank you for that clarification. Now I merely have to commit it to memory!!!

Bonjour,

Just my experience, but the best way to learn is to use, not try to remember. Happy learning!

Why is it not "J'ai habité DEPUIS cinq ans"?

This is what I seem to recall having been taught at school (admittedly, a very long time ago!).

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WB2

why use 5 ans, instead of 5 années?

Asked 2 years ago
JimC1
Il y a cinq ans = 5 years ago, where each year is a period of time. Each of these periods has a duration = 365 days and are counted from 1 Jan to the 31 Dec. The time period = un an, but the time duration of each period = une année. Hope this helps. Alan

why use 5 ans, instead of 5 années?

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