Depuis, depuis…

RichardC1Kwiziq community member

Depuis, depuis…

Would be good to have further explanation of when you use the present (which we all know is 'normal' with depuis) and when you use the the passé composé. I realise it's quite complicated, but using three examples with two different tenses, without acknowledgement, is rather confusing. (Ah, just read the existing comments. See I'm not the first to feel this!)

Asked 1 year ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Richard,

Here is my take on it. It is quite tricky and nuanced.

When referring to time periods, depuis can be used both to indicate ‘time since when’ :

Il est malade depuis vendredi – He has been sick since Friday

as well as, ‘period since the beginning of which’ :

il est malade depuis un an – he has been sick for a year

The tenses used with depuis are tricky and differ from those used in similar constructions in English:

I have lived (and still do) in Paris for ten years – J’habite à Paris depuis dix ans

I (had) lived (but no longer) in Paris for ten years – J’habtais à Paris depuis dix ans

Where English uses the perfect French uses the present; where English uses the pluperfect or preterite, French uses the imperfect.

When using depuis in negative constructions, the passé composé (perfect) as well as the present can be used; it depends on the context.

Je ne dors pas depuis deux jours – I have not slept for two days (and I’m still not able to sleep)

Je n’ai pas dormi depuis deux jours – I have not slept for two days (but now I’m ready to sleep)

 

Depuis can also be used in the sense of from when referring to place or time:

Le Canada s’étend depuis l’Atlantique jusqu’au Pacifique – Canada stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Depuis lundi jusqu’à vendredi – From Monday to Friday

 

Depuis que (+ conjugated verb) : this construction has two meanings:

(i) it marks a point in time and can be translated as since or after:

Je ne la vois plus depuis qu’elle a deménagé. – I don’t see her any more since (after) she moved

This construction uses the same tenses as the English equivalent.

(ii) it can express duration which is on-going and not solely fixed to a point in time :

Je l’aimais depuis qu’elle est arrivée à Paris – I have loved her since she arrived in Paris

Note in this case French uses the imperfect while English uses the perfect.

I hope this helps and is not too confusing.

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Tom, thanks for the detailed discussion. 

I think that the last example is incorrect though as it should be - «Je l'aime depuis qu'elle est arrivée à Paris.»  Present tense is needed here as the 'loving' is ongoing.  Using 'depuis' (since / for) with Le Présent and NOT Le Passé Composé (prepositions of time)

Depuis, depuis…

Would be good to have further explanation of when you use the present (which we all know is 'normal' with depuis) and when you use the the passé composé. I realise it's quite complicated, but using three examples with two different tenses, without acknowledgement, is rather confusing. (Ah, just read the existing comments. See I'm not the first to feel this!)

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