Expressing for + [duration] with either pendant, durant, depuis or pour (prepositions of time)

Look at these sentences using  for + [duration] in English:

J'habite à Paris depuis cinq ans, et ça me plaît toujours !
I've lived in Paris for five years, and I still love it!

Il a dormi pendant sept heures la nuit dernière.
He slept for seven hours last night.

Ils vont étudier à Montréal pour six mois.
They're going to study in Montreal for six months.

As you can see, for + [duration] will be expressed in different ways in French, according to context.


depuis + [durée] = for + [duration]

Je suis là depuis quarante-cinq minutes.
I've been here for forty-five minutes.

Marina rêve d'aller en France depuis des années.
Marina has dreamt of going to France for years.

On sort ensemble depuis trois mois.
We've been dating for three months.

Il parle depuis deux heures !
He's been talking for two hours!

In all these cases, the action started in the past, but is still ongoing at the time we speak.

In French, you use depuis to express an ongoing duration.

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

(pendant / durant) + [durée] = for/during + [duration]

J'étais là pendant quarante-cinq minutes.
I was there for forty-five minutes.

Je me brosse les dents trois minutes à chaque fois.
I brush my teeth for three minutes each time.

Il court une heure tous les matins.
He runs for one hour every morning.

Il court pendant une heure tous les matins.
He runs for one hour every morning.

Il court durant une heure tous les matins.
He runs for one hour every morning.

Note that these cases all express a duration with a clear beginning and end. Whether they take place in the past, present, or future, they are considered as enclosed in a specific timeframe

In French, you use pendant/durant + [durée], or simply the duration itself,  to express a duration with a clear beginning and end.

 

pour + [durée] = for + [duration]

Je resterai chez toi pour une semaine.
I will stay at your place for a week.

Je pars pour deux semaines en avril.
I'm going away for two weeks in April.

Nous irons en Guadeloupe pour les vacances.
We'll go to Guadeloupe for the holiday.

Mes parents seront à Toulouse pour deux mois
My parents will be in Toulouse for two months.

These sentences all express future durations, with a notion of intent, hence the use of pour

In French, you use pour + [durée] only to express a duration in the future.


Note that in this context, you can also use pendant/durant + (or simply) [durée], as the durations expressed have a beginning and an end:

Je pars deux semaines en avril.
I'm going away for two weeks in April.

Je pars pendant deux semaines en avril.
I'm going away for two weeks in April.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il court durant une heure tous les matins.
He runs for one hour every morning.


Je pars deux semaines en avril.
I'm going away for two weeks in April.


Martin a habité à Paris cinq ans, avant de revenir vivre ici.
Martin lived in Paris for five years, before moving back here.


Ils vont étudier à Montréal pour six mois.
They're going to study in Montreal for six months.


On sort ensemble depuis trois mois.
We've been dating for three months.


Il court pendant une heure tous les matins.
He runs for one hour every morning.


J'étais là pendant quarante-cinq minutes.
I was there for forty-five minutes.


Je resterai chez toi pour une semaine.
I will stay at your place for a week.


Nous irons en Guadeloupe pour les vacances.
We'll go to Guadeloupe for the holiday.


Il a dormi pendant sept heures la nuit dernière.
He slept for seven hours last night.


Il court une heure tous les matins.
He runs for one hour every morning.


Je suis là depuis quarante-cinq minutes.
I've been here for forty-five minutes.


Mes parents seront à Toulouse pour deux mois
My parents will be in Toulouse for two months.


J'habite à Paris depuis cinq ans, et ça me plaît toujours !
I've lived in Paris for five years, and I still love it!


Je pars pour deux semaines en avril.
I'm going away for two weeks in April.


On reste à Marseille pendant une semaine.
We're staying in Marseille for a week.


Marina rêve d'aller en France depuis des années.
Marina has dreamt of going to France for years.


Je parlerai deux heures à cette conférence.
I will speak for two hours at that conference.


Je pars pendant deux semaines en avril.
I'm going away for two weeks in April.


Je me brosse les dents trois minutes à chaque fois.
I brush my teeth for three minutes each time.


Il parle depuis deux heures !
He's been talking for two hours!


Q&A

Jay

Kwiziq community member

26 July 2018

1 reply

how could I say 'How long ago was this photo taken?' I.e. Single event, not duration.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

26 July 2018

26/07/18

Bonjour Jay !

I'd say the most colloquial way to ask this is the simple:

Quand est-ce que cette photo a été prise ?

Used on its own, how long ago? could be il y a combien de temps ?

However, it would sound a bit clumsy (though not completely incorrect) to use it in a longer question -> Il y a combien de temps que cette photo a été prise ?

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Bonnie

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

1 reply

I wrote 'pendant' in an answer in passé composé, which was marked srong, with 'durant' the acceptable answer.

In the lesson it always says says 'pendant/durant.' Is there some tricky difference?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

14/06/18

Can you post the sentence in question?

Shruti

Kwiziq community member

2 May 2018

3 replies

Jean va en France pendant une semaine.? Pourquoi pendant et pas pour? Je ne comprends pas.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

3 May 2018

3/05/18

Pour is for future events. This sentence is in present tense. 

-- Chris (not a native speaker). 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

3 May 2018

3/05/18

Come to think of it, I believe that "pour" would also be a possibility in this context as the future tense is implied even though the verb is conjugated in present tense.

-- Chris (not a native teacher).

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

3 May 2018

3/05/18

Bonjour Shruti !

Yes, as Chris said, pour is used for future events. In French, just like in English, we can talk about future events either with Le Futur - J'irai en France pour trois jours (I'll go to Paris for three days) - or Le Présent - Je pars pour deux mois (I'm leaving for two months).

As long as the duration takes place in the future, you will use pour and not pendant.

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Paul

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2017

3 replies

The use of pour.

The problem I have is with the question of how to translate "Gregory goes away for the holidays" and one of the answers is give as "Gregory part pour les vacances." In the notes the use of "pour" as I understand is used only with future durations of events, either stated, or even implied. The question though is a general statement of habit as I read it, so is "pour allowed in these cases?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2017

27/12/17

This is a good question but a subtle one. I would definitely wait for the qualified answer of a native speaker. However, my personal take on this below: The use of "pour" in the sentence "Gregory part pour les vacances" is more of a directional sense than a temporal. Because used in a temporal sense, pour can also mean "pendant", as in : "Je vais être à Paris pour 5 jours." Therefore the sentece: "En général je pars pour les vacances en été." (Generally I go on vacation in summer.) is perfectly OK. -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 December 2017

29/12/17

Bonjour Paul ! Thank you very much for this question, as I had to think it over before finding what the issue was :) Here I actually used the wrong tense in English, as it should have been "Gregory is going on holiday.". Indeed, you were correct in that you wouldn't use "pour" for a general statement, and thanks to you, I've now corrected the question. Bonne journée !

Jan

Kwiziq community member

18 May 2018

18/05/18

I think that the use of "part" does not indicate a general habit. It means something like he's leaving now, at this time. So that would explain why you can't use "pour" I think. I am not an expert! 

Tom Rune

Kwiziq community member

17 December 2017

7 replies

En vs pendant

I don't understand the difference (if any) between "en" and "pendant" when it comes to duration. Could you say both "j'ai mangé pendant une heure" and "j'ai mangé en une heure" to express "I ate for one hour"? Are there other examples (with duration) where you'd have to use one over the other?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

17 December 2017

17/12/17

Bonjour Tom, The most obvious answer to your question is that you are translating from English into French, like word for word. This never works, Ce ne march jamais ! French is not just English translated into French, the French language has a completely different syntax for phrase structure. That being said, the word «en» usage as it relates to time is like this: J'irai à Paris en trois semaines. --> I will go to Paris in 3 weeks. It is used for events in the future, not the past. There are basically 3 forms to use in speaking about duration of an action in the past: depuis, pendant, il y a. J'ai étudié français depuis trois ans. --> I have studied French for 3 years. (with this structure it means that you continue to study French.) J'ai étudié français pendant trois ans. --> I studied French for 3 years. (with this structure it means that you studied French for 3 years but you no longer study French -- one might say that pendant is used in situations of «one and done») J'ai étudié français il y a trois ans. --> I studied French 3 years ago. The only thing I can think of where this phrase «j'ai mangé en une heure» might possibly be used would be a scenario where one is discussing speed eating and one is comparing how quickly they have eaten in the past since the literal translation is along the lines of «I've eaten in an hour» (possibly not a very satisfying meal-time experience, I might add). One key point to keep in mind is the French language is art, it flows like music, it describes like an artist making a painting, and for the most part the syntax describes scenarios in a very beautiful sense unlike our use of English. I hope this is helpful to you.

Tom Rune

Kwiziq community member

18 December 2017

18/12/17

English isn't my native language, so I doubt that that's where the problem lies ;-) The reason I asked about "en" with duration, with eating as an example, is that this very example is used in this lesson: https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/talking-about-time-when-to-use-en-versus-dans-prepositions-of-time Please correct me if I'm wrong, but there seem to be ample examples in this lecture where "en" is used to express duration ("it took this long"), including in the past. Am I missing something? My question, then, is how this works differently than using "pendant". On another note, I don't understand a couple of your examples. Is "J'ai étudié français depuis trois ans" really correct? Shouldn't it be "J'étudie (le) français depuis trois ans"? Present, not passé composé? The other example you use that I don't understand is "J'irai à Paris en trois semaines". Again paraphrasing the lecture https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/talking-about-time-when-to-use-en-versus-dans-prepositions-of-time it says we should use "dans" in this case: "J'irai à Paris _dans_ trois semaines". Are "en" and "dans" interchangable is this particular example, and if so; why?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 December 2017

18/12/17

Well, actually, there is a difference between en and pendant when expressing duration of an action.They are very similar in that way but not enirely.

"Pendant" expresses a global duration of an action which might or might not be continued or repeated.
"En" in the temporal context stands for a duration of an uninterrupted action or a time limit is somehow implied.
For example:

1) "Levez les bras et baissez-les. Faites-le pendant cinq minutes."

2) "Levez les bras et baissez-les. Faites-le en cinq minutes."

The first sentence implies that you raise and lower the arms repeatedly during five minutes.
The second sentence says to raise and lower the arms once within five minutes.

So "pendant" is very much like "during" in English. And "en" is "in" in English.

I hope that helps to clarify the situation.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 December 2017

18/12/17

Hi Ron, I read your well written reply but I am not sure I agree with some examples you give. here are the ones I see things differently: J'irai à Paris en trois semaines. -- That, to me, does NOT mean that I will go to Paris in three weeks, because in this case you would say "dans trois semaines". If you want to say that you have been studying French for 3 years and are still at it, you would use the present tense in French: Je étudie le français depuis 3 ans. You don't use the passé composé in this case. The sentence "J'ai mangé en une heure." is perfectly OK in French. It means that I ate within one hour, meaning that eating took less than one hour. Kind regards, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Tom Rune

Kwiziq community member

18 December 2017

18/12/17

Thank you, Chris, this has been my understanding as well. Also, would you agree with the following examples? - J'ai lu le livre en une heure - I read the book in one hour (it took me one hour to finish it) - J'ai lu le livre pendant une heure - I read the book for one hour (there was more left to read after I finished this sitting)

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 December 2017

18/12/17

Yes, these are good examples, I believe. -- Chris.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 December 2017

19/12/17

Bonjour à tous !

Chris and Tom are correct regarding the example "J'irai à Paris en trois semaines.". This sentence would actually mean something like "It will take me three weeks to go to Paris.", as en refers to the duration it takes to accomplish an action.

Tom, your last examples are correct indeed :)

As Tom pointed out, the related lesson would be:
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/talking-about-time-when-to-use-en-versus-dans-prepositions-of-time
as well as
https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/expressing-for-duration-with-either-pendant-durant-depuis-or-pour

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Ajit

Kwiziq community member

20 July 2017

1 reply

"Isabelle ne fume PLUS depuis troise ans

Why PLUS is added here and PAS?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

21 July 2017

21/07/17

Bonsoir Ajit, It appears that your question is «Why use PLUS here and not PAS? If that is indeed the case, Isabelle did smoke, hence the use of PLUS, she does not smoke any longer and hasn't for 3 years. J'espère que cela vous aidera.

Andy

Kwiziq community member

26 June 2017

1 reply

Futur antérieur

Out of interest is pour still correct usage with the futur antérieur, or may only pendant be used? D’ici là j’aurai parlé pour 45 minutes. (???) By then I will have spoken for 45 minutes. D’ici là j’aurai parlé pendant 45 minutes. By then I will have spoken for 45 minutes.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 June 2017

29/06/17

Bonjour Andy !

That's a very interesting question !

The answer is no, you won't use pour with Le Futur Antérieur.
I guess the issue is that the reason pour can be used in future sentences is that it carries the notion of a purpose, a goal to achieve, which can't apply to already completed actions.

So you would say:
D’ici là j’aurai parlé pendant 45 minutes.
D’ici là j’aurai parlé 45 minutes.


À bientôt !

Adrienne

Kwiziq community member

27 May 2017

2 replies

Is there still a problem with the use of "pour" in this lesson?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

31 May 2017

31/05/17

A teacher explained to me the use of "pour" for expressing duration as that it is only use in speaking of a time in the future, I am going to Paris for ten days, J'irai à Paris pour ten jours. It is never used in expressing an event in the past that I am aware of. Ron

Ron

Kwiziq community member

31 May 2017

31/05/17

Bonjour Adrienne, Here is another explanation for the use of "pour" in expressing time duration. I find it helpful at times to check other resources to find out how that author views a question. Pour can express the duration of an event only in the future. Note that pendant could also be used in all of these. Je vais y habiter pour 2 mois. I'm going to live there for 2 months. Il étudiera en Europe pour 3 ans. He'll study in Europe for 3 years. Le projet est suspendu pour un an. The project is suspended for a year. Although the verb in the final example is not in the future, the use of pour indicates that the one-year suspension is either about to start or is currently underway. If the suspension had already occurred, you would have to use pendant: Le projet a été suspendu pendant un an. The project was suspended for a year. Ron

Jim

Kwiziq community member

9 December 2016

1 reply

We never use "pour" to indicate a duration

Jim

Kwiziq community member

9 December 2016

9/12/16

Dated July 2016 Dear Jim, Thanks for reporting a mistake on the site, and I apologise for taking so long to reply to you. I have seen and agreed with your very useful feedback, but unfortunately I haven't had the time to address it properly yet. I'm really sorry not to have come back to you sooner, but I added this lesson to my priorities, and I will adress it as soon as I'm able to. Of course, I will keep you posted when that's done. I really appreciate you taking the time to let us know so we can maintain the highest standard of quality in our content. Je m'excuse encore et merci beaucoup !
Let me take a look at that...