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

Abuduldurakoroma

Kwiziq community member

22 March 2019

1 reply

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

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

24 March 2019

24/03/19

De quelles question et réponse parlez-vous ? 

Jamie

Kwiziq community member

2 March 2019

3 replies

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.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

3 March 2019

3/03/19

Hi Jamie, 

Yes indeed, your sentence is correct ....

Alan

Kwiziq community member

3 March 2019

3/03/19

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

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

Jamie

Kwiziq community member

6 March 2019

6/03/19

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.  

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

21 February 2019

0 replies

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”!

Alex

Kwiziq community member

21 January 2019

2 replies

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!

Chris

Kwiziq community member

22 January 2019

22/01/19

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

Alex

Kwiziq community member

22 January 2019

22/01/19

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

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://progress.lawlessfrench.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

3 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.'

Joan

Kwiziq community member

8 April 2019

8/04/19

Can we use l'imparfait with pendant? 

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:

Expressing habits or repeated actions in L'Imparfait (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.

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