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

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.


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


Q&A Forum 23 questions, 41 answers

ValentinA2Kwiziq community member

I lived here vs I have lived here

I can't see the difference between:

"i lived here" and "I have lived here" (options used on the test questions)

Asked 2 months ago
LauraKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Valentin,

I'm afraid English questions are beyond the scope of what we offer at the moment, but if you google English simple past vs present perfect, you'll find any number of lessons explaining the difference.

I lived here vs I have lived here

I can't see the difference between:

"i lived here" and "I have lived here" (options used on the test questions)

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CraigB1Kwiziq community member

Is "Je ne quitte pas la France depuis trois ans" the correct translation for "I haven't left France for three years"?

Asked 2 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

That doesn't sound right to me. I would use the passé composé:

Je n'ai pas quitté la France depuis trois ans. -- I haven't left France for three years.

Is "Je ne quitte pas la France depuis trois ans" the correct translation for "I haven't left France for three years"?

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HelenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Depuis with Passé Composé

If a date or measurement of time is not included in a sentence, can you use passé composé with depuis? Examples:

 "On parle de ce qui s'est passé depuis qu'on s'est vues."

" Depuis quelques années, le lac a diminué."

Thank you!

Asked 4 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The first sentence seems ok to me. In the second sentence I would use the present tense, indicating that the lake has started to shrink in the past and is still continuing now: Depuis quelques années, le lac diminue.

Depuis with Passé Composé

If a date or measurement of time is not included in a sentence, can you use passé composé with depuis? Examples:

 "On parle de ce qui s'est passé depuis qu'on s'est vues."

" Depuis quelques années, le lac a diminué."

Thank you!

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AbuduldurakoromaA2Kwiziq community member

Pourquoi le verbe est au passé mais la réponse est au présent

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member

De quelles question et réponse parlez-vous ? 

Pourquoi le verbe est au passé mais la réponse est au présent

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JamieB2Kwiziq community member

Is this usage the same in negative sentences?

I want to say "I have not written since December.  Is this the correct way to say that: Je n’écris pas depuis décembre.

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Jamie, 

Yes indeed, your sentence is correct ....

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Doesn't that contradict what's said in the lesson below?

Using Le Passé Composé or Le Présent in negative sentences with ''depuis''

JamieB2Kwiziq community member

I think you're right Alan.  I hadn't seen that lesson.  My sentence does use "ne...pas", which according to the lesson you cited requires Passé Composé.  

Is this usage the same in negative sentences?

I want to say "I have not written since December.  Is this the correct way to say that: Je n’écris pas depuis décembre.

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MarnieC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

More examples please! not only using depuis

This lesson was referenced for the writing exercise "Cathy's vacation". Although the first sentence here in English expresses the idea of doing something for a while, ALL of the FRENCH examples use "depuis".  It would be really helpful to have other instances used as examples of the  "present perfect" - especially when we are bounced back to this lesson in the midst of an exercise that is not about “depuis”!

Asked 7 months ago

More examples please! not only using depuis

This lesson was referenced for the writing exercise "Cathy's vacation". Although the first sentence here in English expresses the idea of doing something for a while, ALL of the FRENCH examples use "depuis".  It would be really helpful to have other instances used as examples of the  "present perfect" - especially when we are bounced back to this lesson in the midst of an exercise that is not about “depuis”!

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AlexB1Kwiziq community member

linked question with passé composé correct?

“Les Souillard sont mariés depuis plus de vingt ans." means: The Souillards have been married for more than twenty yearshi there, I had tenabove q&a linked to this lesson, but is it a correct match? the lesson is about not using passé composé and this correct answer uses it (i think). any help would be appreciated as I don’t see the specific example in the lesson or anything matching it’s form, thanks!
Asked 8 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

This might look like a passé composé on first inspection but it actually is present tense passive voice.

AlexB1Kwiziq community member

ah yes, I see now! I thought it was se marier at first. ok that makes sense now, but I wonder if a specific example should be included or if another tense/voice should be mixed in the example as it is confusing. I’m going in order from A0 onward and haven’t encountered a lesson on passive voice

linked question with passé composé correct?

“Les Souillard sont mariés depuis plus de vingt ans." means: The Souillards have been married for more than twenty yearshi there, I had tenabove q&a linked to this lesson, but is it a correct match? the lesson is about not using passé composé and this correct answer uses it (i think). any help would be appreciated as I don’t see the specific example in the lesson or anything matching it’s form, thanks!

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JudyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Using ‘depuis’ and ‘il y a’

Can I use these words interchangeably?
Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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.

Using ‘depuis’ and ‘il y a’

Can I use these words interchangeably?

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JudyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Using ‘depuis’ and ‘I’ll

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member
answered above...

Using ‘depuis’ and ‘I’ll

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William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.

Asked 11 months ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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 C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks very much. I misunderstood the meaning of "depuis". 

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.

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LA2Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Either the beginning or the end is ok. Not much different from English.

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

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LA2Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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.'

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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.

JoanA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Can we use l'imparfait with pendant? 

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

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SagarB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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"?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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:

Expressing habits or repeated actions in L'Imparfait (imperfect tense)

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Sagar,

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

-- Chris. 

SagarB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.

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"?

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DennisB1Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Dennis, "I've played/done X since..." implies you still do the activity. If you have stopped you would say "I played" instead.
DennisB1Kwiziq community member
Do you mean "I played football since 2001"?
GruffKwiziq team member
"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.
DennisB1Kwiziq community member
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. :-)
GruffKwiziq team member
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.

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

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NikitaA1Kwiziq community member

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?
Asked 1 year ago
LauraKwiziq team member
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.

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?

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MelanieA0Kwiziq community member

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.
Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member

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?

NikitaA1Kwiziq community member
In fact, to my opinion, the proper translation would be 'I am with my girlfrieng since 2005'. This makes more sense.
OlofA2Kwiziq community member
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..."

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.

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BrittanyC1Kwiziq community member

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."?
Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Brittany,

You first sentence is incorrect. You have to say:

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

RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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,

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."?

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PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Regarding question 1 of the quiz above

"Louis joue au basket depuis une heure" - can this also mean he has been playing since one o'clock? (This is not one of the possible answers)
Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Paul - great question. It could mean either. You'd need more content to work out which was meant in this case.

Regarding question 1 of the quiz above

"Louis joue au basket depuis une heure" - can this also mean he has been playing since one o'clock? (This is not one of the possible answers)

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CristinaB1Kwiziq community member

How do you say to a friend: "Your absence has not passed unnoticed"

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Cristina (and Chris) !

Chris, you're absolutely spot on, but for a tiny mistake :)

Ton absence n'est pas passée inaperçue.

Bonne journée à tous les deux !
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
I would translate this as, "ton absence n'est pas passée inaperçu" (but I am not a native speaker). -- Chris.

How do you say to a friend: "Your absence has not passed unnoticed"

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DanielB1Kwiziq community member

...

Cette question peut être bête mas, pourquoi est noir féminin? La Dame en Noir a hanté cette maison depuis des siècles? Merci
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
[person] noir(e) ⇒ She's black. Elle est noire. I am not finding the noir reference in the lesson listed with your question.
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Daniel ! That's a great question, and the answer is simpler than it seems :) Here it's not the woman who's black, but her clothes = in black (clothing). Therefore, the adjective won't agree here: "en + [masculine colour]". "La Dame en noir / en blanc / en vert..." It would be the same in sentences such as: "J'aimerais cette jupe en violet." (I'd like this skirt in purple.) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
Daniel asked:View original

...

Cette question peut être bête mas, pourquoi est noir féminin? La Dame en Noir a hanté cette maison depuis des siècles? Merci

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William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I have tried to include “depuis”, “durant” and “pour” in the one sentence.

J'étudie le français durant deux heures tous les jours depuis mon anniversaire le mois dernier, mais j’ai seulement étudié durant quatre-vingt-dix minutes hier soir tellement je devrai étudier pour deux et demie heures demain
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour William !

Très bel effort !
Note that "durant" is much less common than its synonym "pendant" in French, and that in most cases (especially with durations) you can simply omit it altogether.

Your sentence is really good *but* for the last "pour" which is wrong here. With durations (times), it will always be "pendant/durant".
You could have said "pour les vacances" or "pour mon examen" for example.

Here's another version :)
"J'étudie le français (pendant) deux heures tous les jours depuis mon anniversaire le mois dernier, car je vais aller en France pour les vacances."

Bonnne journée !

I have tried to include “depuis”, “durant” and “pour” in the one sentence.

J'étudie le français durant deux heures tous les jours depuis mon anniversaire le mois dernier, mais j’ai seulement étudié durant quatre-vingt-dix minutes hier soir tellement je devrai étudier pour deux et demie heures demain

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NancyB2Kwiziq community member

Is it correct that the imperfect is not used with "depuis"?

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
Bonjour Nancy !

No, you can use L'Imparfait with depuis, just not in the same cases as explained in this lesson.
You will use L'Imparfait when talking about an event that WAS/HAD BEEN HAPPENING in the past. Usually in the context of a story:
"Elle dormait depuis dix minutes lorsque soudain elle fut (Passé Simple) réveillée par un bruit."
(She was/had been sleeping for ten minutes when she was suddenly woken up by a noise.)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !
Nancy asked:View original

Is it correct that the imperfect is not used with "depuis"?

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JayaniA2Kwiziq community member

When exactly we should use depuis with present?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Jayani, You use "depuis* with the present tense when you're talking about something that started in the past and continues in the present. For example, J'habite ici depuis 5 ans - I've lived here for 5 years. Je travaille depuis ce matin. - I've been working since this morning.
KurienA2Kwiziq community member
I feel that J'habite ici depuis 5 ans translates to I have been living here for (the past) 5 years rather than I've lived here for 5 years. See https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/71092-quot-I-ve-been-living-quot-vs-quot-I-ve-lived-quot https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/84898/have-lived-vs-have-been-living

When exactly we should use depuis with present?

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