En vs dans (prepositions of time)

When talking about time or durations introduced by in - in two hours, in 1876,... - in French you will either use dans or en.

Here is how to know which one to use :


En une heure = (With)in an hour

Nous avons mangé en 40 minutes.
We ate in forty minutes.

Ils ont fini ce marathon en quatre heures quarante minutes. 
They finished that marathon in four hours and forty minutes.

Léonard de Vinci a peint la Joconde en quatre ans.
Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in four years.

En expresses the length of time something takes to be done.

 

Dans une heure = In an hour

Nous mangerons dans une heure 
We will eat in an hour's time

Je serai là dans deux semaines.
I will be there in two weeks.

Votre colis sera livré dans cinq jours ouvrés.
Your package will be delivered in 5 working days.

Dans indicates the time until something will happen.

 

En 1998 / En octobre = In 1998 / In October

En 1815, Napoléon fut vaincu.
In 1815, Napoleon was defeated.

En quelle année vous êtes-vous rencontrés?
In what year did you meet?

Mon fils est né en septembre.
My son was born in September.

Il part toujours en vacances en juillet.
He always goes on holiday [US: vacation] in July.

En is used with years and months

You will never say : dans 1998   /  dans octobre

See also how to pronounce years in French : Expressing dates in French

 

See also À + [heure] = At + [time]
and After / before versus in front of / behind (prepositions of time and place)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

En 1815, Napoléon fut vaincu.
In 1815, Napoleon was defeated.


Léonard de Vinci a peint la Joconde en quatre ans.
Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in four years.


Je serai là dans deux semaines.
I will be there in two weeks.


Votre colis sera livré dans cinq jours ouvrés.
Your package will be delivered in 5 working days.


En quelle année vous êtes-vous rencontrés?
In what year did you meet?



Il part toujours en vacances en juillet.
He always goes on holiday [US: vacation] in July.


Il est né en 1765.
He was born in 1765.


Mon fils est né en septembre.
My son was born in September.


Ils ont fini ce marathon en quatre heures quarante minutes. 
They finished that marathon in four hours and forty minutes.


dans


Nous mangerons dans une heure 
We will eat in an hour's time


en


Nous avons mangé en 40 minutes.
We ate in forty minutes.


Q&A Forum 8 questions, 15 answers

In the example Je serais là dans deux semaines. Would it also be correct to say J’y serais dans deux semaines.

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Heather, 

As the pronoun 'y' replaces a noun/place previously mentioned and we don't know where that is in this simple sentence, 'là' has to be used...

Hope this helps!

In the example Je serais là dans deux semaines. Would it also be correct to say J’y serais dans deux semaines.

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So can dans be replaced with apres to mean the same thing here?

We will eat in an hour's time/after an hour,
" Nous mangerons dans une heure/apres une heure. "

If so, saying this would make the lesson easier to grasp, because dans and en mean practically the same thing when en means in in my head.

Asked 1 year ago

Dépêche-toi, on va manger dans 5 minutes. -- Hurry up, we are going to eat in 5 minutes.

This sentence wouldn't really work with après, just as in English you wouldn't really say, "we'll eat after 5 minutes."

You are right that dans and en come close in meaning but they aren't really interchangable.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

So can dans be replaced with apres to mean the same thing here?

We will eat in an hour's time/after an hour,
" Nous mangerons dans une heure/apres une heure. "

If so, saying this would make the lesson easier to grasp, because dans and en mean practically the same thing when en means in in my head.

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Dans means the time is still taken to do a task ?

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

I don't understand what you mean by that. Did my reply to your previous post answer your question?

-- Chris.

Yes It Is. Thankyou :)

Dans means the time is still taken to do a task ?

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En means the total duration of time has been taken to do a task.

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Shruti,

The only thing I would add is 'en' is normally in (within)+ time and 'dans' is in +time (+ time)

e.g. Boire un verre de vin en 5 minutes n'est pas recommandé = To drink a glass of wine in (within) 5 minutes is not a good thing

Nous allons manger dans 20 minutes =we're going to eat in 20 minutes (time)

Hope this helps!

 

Hi Shruti, yes, you are right.

Boivez un verre d'eau en 5 minutes. -- Drink a glass of water within 5 minutes.
Boivez un verre d'eau dans 5 minutes. -- Drink a glass of water in 5 minutes.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

D’accord. Merci. Ça m’aider 

En means the total duration of time has been taken to do a task.

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Can "en" ever express waiting?

I understand the examples given in this lecture (although I'd have like "en" to be contrasted with "pendant" as well), but can "en" ever mean "in" as in "I'll leave in one hour"? Or should I forget completely about using "en" in that sense?
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

I'll leave in one hour is "Je pars dans une heure."
I believe that "en" cannot be used in this context.

-- Chris.

AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Tom and Chris !

Actually, "Je pars en une heure" would be closer to something like "It's taking me an hour to leave.", in a very awkward way.

You cannot use en in the sense of in + [a future duration], it will always be dans :)

Bonne journée !

"Je pars en une heure" would mean I leave within one hour. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
Yes, that makes sense. Thank you.

Can "en" ever express waiting?

I understand the examples given in this lecture (although I'd have like "en" to be contrasted with "pendant" as well), but can "en" ever mean "in" as in "I'll leave in one hour"? Or should I forget completely about using "en" in that sense?

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How do you say "within an hour"?

"Dinner will be served within an hour" was the wrong choice on the test for "le dîner sera servi dans une heure". If I wanted to be less precise than "in an hour's time", how would I express that?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sherry ! To say "Dinner will be served within an hour" you would have to say "Le dîner sera servi *en* moins d'une heure" (literally: within less than an hour / comprised in one hour) or "Le dîner sera servi *dans* moins d'une heure" (literally: in less than an hour's time). I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
I'm a bit confused about the possibility for "en" in this context. Does that mean that "en" can express future actions as well?

How do you say "within an hour"?

"Dinner will be served within an hour" was the wrong choice on the test for "le dîner sera servi dans une heure". If I wanted to be less precise than "in an hour's time", how would I express that?

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Doing something in a specific evening

How about "in the evening" or "in the morning" as a one-time event? I understand that if one does something every evening the term is "le soir" (Tu ne lis que le soir). But what if I'm referring to a specific evening, for example: On est partis tôt et on est arrivés à la maison (in the evening). While I'm asking, how would one modify that to express "early in the evening."

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Charles ! 1- To say "We come home in the evening (specific day)", you would use "dans la soirée" in the sense of "at one point in the duration of that evening", OR "le soir-même" to emphasise "that very evening": - Nous sommes arrivés dans la soirée/matinée. - Nous sommes arrivés le soir-même / le matin-même. 2. To add "early/late in the evening", you will only use " dans la soirée", as such: - Nous sommes arrivés tôt dans la soirée. I hope that's helpful!

Doing something in a specific evening

How about "in the evening" or "in the morning" as a one-time event? I understand that if one does something every evening the term is "le soir" (Tu ne lis que le soir). But what if I'm referring to a specific evening, for example: On est partis tôt et on est arrivés à la maison (in the evening). While I'm asking, how would one modify that to express "early in the evening."

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En vs Dans

I think the British and American English are a bit different, so I'm still not quite clear on this. So does "Nous avons mangé en 40 minutes" means we ate for 40 minutes? The duration of our meal was 40 minutes? It took us 40 minutes to eat? And "Nous mangerons dans une heure" means we will have to wait for another hour before we can eat, right?
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
I think it's the same in US and UK English: Nous avons mangé en 40 minutes = "Over the course of 40 minutes, we ate." All of the sentences you wrote mean the same thing as this. Nous mangerons dans une heure = yes, we will eat in an hour from now.

En vs Dans

I think the British and American English are a bit different, so I'm still not quite clear on this. So does "Nous avons mangé en 40 minutes" means we ate for 40 minutes? The duration of our meal was 40 minutes? It took us 40 minutes to eat? And "Nous mangerons dans une heure" means we will have to wait for another hour before we can eat, right?

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Clever stuff underway!