Using 'depuis' (since / for) with Le Présent and NOT Le Passé Composé (prepositions of time)

In English, we use the Present Perfect (e.g. I have been) to express an action started in the past but that is still going on in the present.

I have lived here for four years.

Now look at these examples in French:

Je suis avec ma copine depuis 2005.
I have been with my girlfriend since 2005.

J'habite à Paris depuis quatre ans.
I have lived in Paris for 4 years.

Je parle depuis 45 minutes.
I've been speaking for 45 minutes.

Notice that in French, to express the same kind of actions, we use depuis with Présent indicatif. 

Depuis can mean both for + [duration] and since + [date] in this context.

Note that you can never use pour in that context. 

See also Using 'depuis' (since / for) with Le Présent and NOT Le Passé Composé (prepositions of time) and the more advanced Using Le Passé Composé or Le Présent in negative sentences with ''depuis''

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'habite à Paris depuis quatre ans.
I have lived in Paris for 4 years.


Je suis avec ma copine depuis 2005.
I have been with my girlfriend since 2005.



Je parle depuis 45 minutes.
I've been speaking for 45 minutes.


Q&A

Judy

Kwiziq community member

14 November 2018

2 replies

Using ‘depuis’ and ‘il y a’

Can I use these words interchangeably?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

15 November 2018

15/11/18

Hi judy,

The simple answer is no.

Take a look at the following lesson on how to use 'il y a' meaning 'ago'.

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/expressions-of-time-il-y-a-duration-ago

Hope this helps!

Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 November 2018

19/11/18

Je vis en France depuis 10 ans. -- I've been living in France for 10 years.
J'ai vécu en France il y a 10 ans. -- I lived in France 10 years ago.

Judy

Kwiziq community member

14 November 2018

1 reply

Using ‘depuis’ and ‘I’ll

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

15 November 2018

15/11/18

answered above...

William

Kwiziq community member

20 October 2018

2 replies

Starting sentences with "Depuis"

Apologies if this is in wrong section.

I am fairly certain that I can use: Depuis mon amie Paul vit en ma maison en Glasgow, je reste à Lyon avec ses parents.

Can I reverse the order of the clauses. Depuis je reste à Lyon avec ses parents, mon ami vit en mon appartement en Glasgow.

Tom

Kwiziq community member

21 October 2018

21/10/18

Hi William,

I think you may be confusing the usage and depuis and puisque which both can be translated in English as since, but with different meanings:

Depuis (preposition) since, a marker in time ,  puisque, (conjunction) since, because

So your sentence would become :

Puisque je reste à Lyon avec ses parents, mon ami vit dans mon appartement à Glasgow.

Yes, there is no reason why you cannot start the sentence with  puisque.

I apologise if I have misunderstood the meaning of your question.

William

Kwiziq community member

21 October 2018

21/10/18

Thanks very much. I misunderstood the meaning of "depuis". 

L

Kwiziq community member

27 September 2018

1 reply

il y a une semaine, j'ai vu un film. Is this the typical way of saying this. In English, we would typically reverse the order-I saw a film a week ago

Chris

Kwiziq community member

28 September 2018

28/09/18

Either the beginning or the end is ok. Not much different from English.

L

Kwiziq community member

27 September 2018

2 replies

can pendant be used for duration in the past using imparfait eg J'etudiais le francais pendant 2 ans

Chris

Kwiziq community member

28 September 2018

28/09/18

Pendant, in this context, refers to a well defined period in the past. Therefore I would say:

J'ai étudié  le français pendant deux ans.

I don't think there is a rule forbidding the use of imparfait in conjunction with pendant. It's just that in this example, I would use the passé composé.

The opinion of a native speaker would be greatly appreciated, though.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 September 2018

29/09/18

Hi L,

No,  you cannot say,  'J'étudiais le français pendant deux ans.' as it lasted two years in now finished, the only possibility is-

'J'ai étudié le français pendant deux ans.'

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

15 August 2018

3 replies

Why is this reflexive verb conjugated in passé composé ?

The quiz question about translating "When I was young, people dressed differently" is answered as: "Quand j'étais jeune, les gens s'habillaient différemment."

But I thought the reflexive participle only changes to reflect quantity and gender as in these examples:

Il s'est levé.
Je me suis amusée. (When the speaker is female)
Elle s'est lavée.

Why is "se habille" conjugated into "s'habillaient" in the quiz question above? Shouldn't it be:

"Quand j'étais jeune, les gens se sont habillés différemment"?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

15 August 2018

15/08/18

Hi Sagar,

s'habillaient is the imperfect, se sont habillés would be passé composé. 

-- Chris. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

15 August 2018

15/08/18

Hi Sagar,

You can only use the imperfect ( imparfait) here as it describes something people did (used to do) in the past.

It is not a question of agreement, as the s'habillaient is in the third person plural (they) it is just the tense that is wrong.

Look at the lesson below for further understanding:

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/l-imparfait-usage-expressing-habits-or-repeated-actions-in-the-past-imperfect-tense

Hope this helps!

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

15 August 2018

15/08/18

Thank you, Cécile and Chris.

I understand now. It really comes down to the idea that l'imparfait should be used when describing an ongoing action in the past. I was under the impression that l'imparfait was only required for the first part of the answer ("j'etais"), while the passé composé could be used for the second part.

It's clear now. Thank you so much.

I love Lawless French.

Dennis

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2018

5 replies

Just because "I have played football since ...." doesn't mean "I still play football".

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Hi Dennis, "I've played/done X since..." implies you still do the activity. If you have stopped you would say "I played" instead.

Dennis

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Do you mean "I played football since 2001"?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

29 January 2018

29/01/18

"I played football when I was young", or "I played football up until last year", or "I played from ... to... " (no longer play) versus "I've played all my all life" "I've played football since 2001" (still play) I can't think of a context in which I'd say "I played football since 2001" - that incomplete to me, like the rest of the sentence is missing - but if that sounds okay to you then it could be a regional thing? Anyway, French is generally more strict than English, and of course, the point is that depuis is used with the present tense.

Dennis

Kwiziq community member

30 January 2018

30/01/18

Hi Gruff, I understand and agree with what you say above, but there is an ambiguity in the statement "I have played football since 2001". Take the case of someone who last played football in 2002 - when he played only one single time. To the question: "Have you played football since 2001?" , he could truthfully say "[yes,]I have played football since 2001 [but just the once]". But... if you asked the question: "Have you been playing football since 2001" (which is what I think you are meaning), he would answer "No". To make the meaning absolutely clear, you have to use the progressive form - "have you been playing" (to denote an on-going action) and not the past (as you have done). I hope this clarifies the point I was making. :-)

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

30 January 2018

30/01/18

Ah! Thanks for expanding on your point, Dennis. I completely understand what you meant now! Yes, this is a complexity in the English where emphasis on the auxiliary 'have' can be used to assert something, emphasise a fact and can change the meaning. Of course, in speech this would be very clear, but it's harder to get across in text. The use of the progressive form is unambiguous as you say but, both might used in speech. It hadn't occurred to me that the English might be read that way so this discussion hopefully clarifies that for everyone reading! Thanks Dennis.

Nikita

Kwiziq community member

6 January 2018

1 reply

Aren't we using Present Perfect Continuous here, and not just Present Perfect?

We should have been using Present Perfect Continuous when describing actions continuing in present since some undefined time in the past, shouldn't we?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

8 January 2018

8/01/18

Bonjour Nikita, both teh present perfect and present perfect continuous can describe something that began in the past and continues into the present. Using the continuous emphasizes the ongoing nature, but the present parfect isn't wrong. Since there's no distinction between these two forms, I have live and I have been living, in French, we've chosen the simpler translation to avoid confusion.

melanie

Kwiziq community member

8 December 2017

3 replies

Can someone please explain why the etre is used in the following question instead of Avoir.

I'm a bit confused by this because most of the other sentences do not use je suis. Thanks Je suis avec ma copine depuis 2005. I have been with my girlfriend since 2005.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

9 December 2017

9/12/17

Hi Melanie, I think I understand your confusion.

Remember that in English, "have" is an auxiliary verb in sentences like "I have been" (this tense is called the present perfect in English, and is composed of a present tense conjugation of "to have" + the past participle of the verb, which in this case is "to be" - this structure is very similar to Le Passé Composé).

Now, when we use "depuis" to express "since" or "for" in French, we use it with the present tense. In constrast, in English, we use the present perfect.

So, "être avec" (to be with someone) in the present tense is "Je suis avec". In the English equivalent, "have" appears because we need to transpose the tense to the present perfect and so it becomes "I have been". You see than "to be" is still there but it's become the past participle in English, and have is just the usual auxiliary verb that's always part of that tense. I hope that makes sense?

Nikita

Kwiziq community member

6 January 2018

6/01/18

In fact, to my opinion, the proper translation would be 'I am with my girlfrieng since 2005'. This makes more sense.

Olof

Kwiziq community member

18 January 2018

18/01/18

That sounds a bit odd, though? Anyway, the point is, if you want to describe the fact that you have been with your girlfriend since 2005 you can never use "j'ai" in French. So while you can say: "I have been with my girlfriend since 2005" You need to say: "Je suis avec ma copine depuis 2005" and never: "J'ai été avec..."

Brittany

Kwiziq community member

31 August 2017

2 replies

What if the part after "depuis" requires l'imparfait or passé composé?

Such as "Je joue du piano depuis j'avais six ans." Would it be more grammatically accurate to say, "Je joue du piano depuis l'âge de six ans."?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

31 August 2017

31/08/17

Bonjour Brittany, It seems to me that in your first phrase «Je joue du piano depuis j'avais six ans» --> J'ai joué au piano depuis j'avais six ans -- would be more correct by using the passé composé along with l'imparfait; however, since playing the piano is a habit or something learned that is still ongoing, I would rephrase it to be Je jouais du piano depuis j'ai eu six ans due to the fact that playing the piano is a habit, learned skill that is continuing. One caveat here, like a former French teacher told the class, the French language is not simply English translated into French. And your second phrase, I believe is the most grammatically correct. Bonne chance,

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

21 October 2018

21/10/18

Hi Brittany,

You first sentence is incorrect. You have to say:

Je joue du piano depuis l'âge de six ans .

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

find your French level

Why not share the love?!

I'll be right with you...