Je fumais depuis des années quand j’ai décidé d’arrêter

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Kwiziq community member

16 August 2018

3 replies

Je fumais depuis des années quand j’ai décidé d’arrêter

The English translation that you give is not normally what one would say.  We would say “I had been smoking...” not “I was smoking...”...the plus perfect not the imperfect.  In French would one ever use the plus que parfait as we do in English?

This question relates to:
French lesson "Using Le Passé Composé on its own or with L'Imparfait"


Kwiziq language super star

22 August 2018


Hi Marnie,

In the two most common cases with 'depuis' 

Depuis ....+ présent

How long have you been waiting? Vous attendez depuis combien de temps ? because the action is carrying on.

In the same way, Depuis ...+ imparfait :

Where you would use the pluperfect in English it will be the imparfait in French :

Depuis combien de temps attendiez-vous? = How long had you been waiting?

and the action is finished .

Hoe this helps!


Kwiziq community member

24 August 2018


Thanks Cécile.

It is the English translation that of the French version that I am raising.

In English, we would say "I HAD been smoking" ONLY if another action took place while we were smoking and put an end to that smoking.

In English, by itself, the imperfect (with no implication of a subsequent action): "how long have you been smoking" AND the pluperfect when your smoking was ended by a subsequent action/decision:  "how long HAD you been smoking when you decided to stop?"

So the English translation of "Je fumais depuis des années quand j'ai décidé d'arrêter." would be "I HAD BEEN smoking for years when I decided to stop."  At the moment, the English translation is "I WAS smoking for years when I decided to stop."  The use of "was smoking" is what is incorrect.


Kwiziq language super star

28 August 2018


Bonjour Marnie !

The English in that example has now been fixed :)

Cécile's explanation as to whether or not we'd use the pluperfect in French answered your last question :)

Merci et à bientôt !

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