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

You have already seen that in affirmative sentences with depuis (= I have done this since/for + [date/duration]), you must use Présent indicatif in French, unlike the English Present Perfect.
See lesson Using 'depuis' (since / for) with Le Présent and NOT Le Passé Composé (prepositions of time)

But things change when it comes to negative statements (ne...pas) with depuis.
Indeed, in such cases, you will actually use Passé composé in French, as such: 

Elle n'est pas allée au cinéma depuis 1998.
She hasn't gone to the cinema since 1998.

Elle ne t'a pas vu depuis trois mois.
She hasn't seen you for three months.

Je n'ai pas fumé depuis novembre dernier.
I haven't smoked since last November.

Tu n'as pas bu d'alcool depuis cinq ans.
You haven't drunk alcohol for five years.

Here we use Passé composé because the use of the negation ne ... pas insists on the fact that the action stopped happening at the specific time mentioned (since/for) in the past. 

If we used Présent indicatif here, it would make it sound like the action "keeps on stopping" during the given length of time.

To say that a (recurring) action in the past has now stopped happening with depuis, you can also use Présent indicatif with ne ... plus (not any more) instead of ne ... pas

Tu ne bois plus d'alcool depuis cinq ans.
You haven't drunk alcohol for five years.

Je ne fume plus depuis 1998.
I haven't smoked since 1998.

 

Special case of depuis longtemps = not long vs not in a long time

Je ne vis pas en France depuis longtemps.
I haven't been living in France for long.

Je n'ai pas vécu en France depuis longtemps.
I haven't lived in France in a long time.

Il ne m'a pas parlé depuis longtemps.
He hasn't spoken to me in a long time.

Nous n'habitons pas ici depuis très longtemps.
We haven't lived here very long.

Ne ... pas + Passé composé + depuis longtemps 
OR 
Ne...plus + Présent indicatif + depuis longtemps 

not for a long time / not in ages
-> It's over and done in the past

ATTENTION:

Ne...pasPrésent indicatif + depuis longtemps = not long / not for long
-> It started a short while ago, and is still ongoing
See also Expressing for + [duration] with either pendant, durant, depuis or pour (prepositions of time)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il ne m'a pas parlé depuis longtemps.
He hasn't spoken to me in a long time.


Elle n'est pas allée au cinéma depuis 1998.
She hasn't gone to the cinema since 1998.


Nous n'habitons pas ici depuis très longtemps.
We haven't lived here very long.


Je ne vis pas en France depuis longtemps.
I haven't been living in France for long.


Je n'ai pas fumé depuis novembre dernier.
I haven't smoked since last November.


Je ne fume plus depuis 1998.
I haven't smoked since 1998.


Elle ne t'a pas vu depuis trois mois.
She hasn't seen you for three months.


Martin n'est pas arrivé depuis longtemps.
Martin hasn't been here long.


Je n'ai pas vécu en France depuis longtemps.
I haven't lived in France in a long time.


Tu n'as pas bu d'alcool depuis cinq ans.
You haven't drunk alcohol for five years.


Tu ne bois plus d'alcool depuis cinq ans.
You haven't drunk alcohol for five years.


Tu n'es pas allé en Australie depuis quelques années.
You haven't been to Australia for a few years.


Q&A

Marnie

Kwiziq community member

5 December 2018

0 replies

ne...pas...be...plus..,depuis longtempsOne explanation box lacks example of lesson

 the box for ne...pas...depuis longtemps and "ne...plus...depuis longtemps" doesn't have any examples for the "ne...plus" part of lesson

Lewis

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2018

3 replies

Still confused

I've read through the questions and answers below, but still don't understand the following example.

Test question: "I haven't been in France for long?" (ie, I recently arrived and I'm still here; ongoing).

From the lesson it seems the best construction would be: Ne...pas + Présent Indicatif + depuis longtemps (started a short while ago and is still ongoing).

But Kwiziq says the best answer is: Ne...pas + Passé Composé + depuis longtemps (not for a long time / not in ages).

If someone could explain it more clearly, thanks.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

26 August 2018

26/08/18

Hi Lewis,

I will try and explain further but I can understand your confusion ...

I am not sure what test you are referring to, but have a look at the following examples:

Je n'ai pas mangé depuis trois jours. = I have not eaten for three days. (meaning it is likely to change today)

Je ne mange pas depuis trois jours... = I have not eaten for three days...(meaning it is likely to carry on today and it is maybe worrying you 

On ne se parle pas depuis longtemps. = we have not spoken for ages . (sounds  like you won't do it again, maybe you have had a fall out )

On ne s'est pas parlé depuis longtemps. = We have not spoken in ages. (meaning you need to have a catch-up soon) 

Hope this helps!

 

SA

Kwiziq community member

7 September 2018

7/09/18

Should it be: On ne se parle plus depuis longtemps. ?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

8 September 2018

8/09/18

You can say both ....

Kate

Kwiziq community member

16 May 2018

1 reply

You haven't lived here long is in the B1 test

The correct answer is "Tu n'habites pas ici depuis longtemps" yet the lesson shows using the passé composé in negative sentences with "depuis" Why is the correct response in the present tense?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 May 2018

17/05/18

Hi Kate,

the correct use of times with depuis can be tricky. Here are the rules in a nutshell.

If stating something that has been happening for a while and still ongoing, you use depuis with the present tense:

J'habite à Paris depuis 5 ans. -- I have been living in Paris for five years (and I still live here).

In negative sentences where the action is already past, you use the passé composé:

Je ne l'ai pas vu depuis son départ. -- I haven't seen him since his departure.

You may use the present tense if you are referring to a (frequently recurring or habitual) action which stopped in the past:

Tu ne fumes plus depuis l'été dernier. -- You don't smoke anymore since last summer.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

3 May 2018

3 replies

When describing past events with depuis, can you substitute Present Indicative for Imperfect?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

3 May 2018

3/05/18

Bonjour CrystalMaiden !

Could you give me a specific case ?

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

6 May 2018

6/05/18

" Par ce moment en sa vie, il était sans foyer depuis cinq journées. "

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 June 2018

13/06/18

Yes, in cases where the enunciation time is in the past, you will indeed use L'Imparfait instead of Le Présent.

However, your sentence here is not quite right: you cannot use "à cette époque de sa vie", and then talk about something that started before (depuis cinq jours).

You would use either say : 

Il était sans domicile depuis cinq jours.
OR
À cette époque de sa vie, il était sans domicile. 

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Michael

Kwiziq community member

24 December 2017

2 replies

Instruction manque le "Ne...pas +"

Je pense que cette instruction: "Le Passé Composé + depuis longtemps OR ne...plus + Le Présent + depuis longtemps = not for a long time / not in ages -> It's over and done in the past" manque le "Ne ... Pas + " au début.

Michael

Kwiziq community member

24 December 2017

24/12/17

C'est vrai? Le passé composé nécessite le "Ne...pas" aussi?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

29 December 2017

29/12/17

Merci beaucoup Michael ! Indeed, the "ne...pas" was missing here. Thanks to you, it's now been fixed :) À bientôt !

abt

Kwiziq community member

1 October 2017

2 replies

depuis and Imparfait

I came across a sentence in a book where "depuis" was used along with the imparfait - can maybe you please confirm if it was used correctly? "Comme je ne faisais pas de bruit depuis un moment, maman est venue voir ce qui se passait." Merci d'avance!

Ron

Kwiziq community member

1 October 2017

1/10/17

Bonjour abt,
If I am correctly understanding your question: «Comme je ne faisais pas de bruit depuis un moment, maman est venue voir ce qui se passait.» ---> As I was quiet for a while, mother came to see what was going on. Because you indicated that this came from a book, it appears to me that the author was writing descriptive text. Also, the quietness had been going on when the mother came to see what was happening, it had begun prior to her entering the area and was continuing up until she entered. In French this is a normal use of l'imparfait and depuis.
« 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.»
«Note that L'Imparfait is also used for descriptions, i.e. to help visualise the setting or atmosphere in which an action took place, characters, location, time frame ...
In a similar way, L'Imparfait is also used to express opinions about the past:»

J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait.
Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

abt

Kwiziq community member

9 October 2017

9/10/17

Merci Ron! Yes, your explanation makes sense. I was just not expecting the 2 to go together.

abt

Kwiziq community member

1 October 2017

2 replies

Bonjour!

Ron

Kwiziq community member

1 October 2017

1/10/17

Bonjour abt, Please clarify your question and resubmit.

abt

Kwiziq community member

9 October 2017

9/10/17

Sorry Ron! I pressed the enter key too quickly and before I could enter the actual question. <y question was about "depuis and Imparfait" which you answered above :)

harriet

Kwiziq community member

17 July 2017

4 replies

Le Passé Composé + depuis longtemps= not long / not for long

Maybe I've not understood this bit of the lesson, but shouldn't this say '= not in a long time' instead of '= not for long'?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

17 July 2017

17/07/17

Hi Harriet - can you be more specific about which sentence or part of the lesson you mean?

harriet

Kwiziq community member

17 July 2017

17/07/17

Sorry, tried to put it as the question title but it was too long. It's the second to last note of the lesson: 'Le Passé Composé + depuis longtemps OR ne...plus + Le Présent + depuis longtemps = not long / not for long -> It's over and done in the past'

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

19 July 2017

19/07/17

Ah, yes, I see what you mean. Indeed, those cases correlate to "not for a long time". I'll get that clarified. Thanks!

harriet

Kwiziq community member

19 July 2017

19/07/17

That's okay- just wanted to make sure I'd understood it properly!

Brian

Kwiziq community member

10 July 2017

3 replies

Ne...pas + le présent + depuis longtemps

Nous ne sommes pas arrivés depuis longtemps. We have not been here for long. My question is, that since the English translation appears to imply that the action continues into the present, why is the above French sentence in le passé composé and not le présent. Like the examples: Je ne vis pas en France depuis longtemps. I have not lived in France for long. Nous n'habitons pas ici depuis très longtemps. We haven't lived here very long. This is my third attempt to get an answer. The previous answers told me to read the lesson. I have read it many times. What am I missing?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 July 2017

14/07/17

Bonjour Brian !

The case of "arriver" is tricky because you use "to be" in English:
Literally, the French sentence means "We haven't arrived for long", referring to the action of arriving, not being there.
Therefore, this is not an action that is still ongoing: you have stopped arriving in the past, you don't "keep" arriving.
That's why you will use Le Passé Composé here.

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

steven

Kwiziq community member

28 May 2018

28/05/18

Hi Aurélie,

Could we also write "Nous ne sommes pas là depuis longtemps" as an alternative translation for "We haven't been here for long"? That way we omit the verb arriver altogether. 

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 June 2018

13/06/18

Bonjour Steven !

This is a correct alternative, though note that the "arriver" option is very colloquial and therefore worth remembering :)

Bonne journée !

Jason

Kwiziq community member

20 December 2016

3 replies

Clarifying using depuis in the negative

Does 'nous ne sommes pas là depuis longtemps' mean 'we have been here, but not for long', or 'we have been absent for a long time'?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

20 December 2016

20/12/16

Bonjour Jason ! The first one is correct: "We have been here but not for long.". À bientôt !

Jason

Kwiziq community member

20 December 2016

20/12/16

Thanks Aurélie. This is super weird to me because it seems like in the Le Présent construction, it's almost like the negation applies more to the duration rather than the action. Nous n'avons pas été là depuis 1998 means "We have not been here since 1998; or, we have been absent since 1998". Does "Nous ne sommes pas là depuis trois minutes" mean "we were absent for 3 minutes (but are now here)", or "We have been here, but not not for 3 minutes"? Or is perhaps longtemps a special case? Thoroughly confused! Thanks for answering our questions!

Kathy

Kwiziq community member

7 May 2017

7/05/17

Hi Jason, I'm just learning this construction too but thought I'd try and address your question. To me, the present tense makes sense as "nous ne sommes pas là depuis longtemps" literally translates (in bad English) to "we aren't here since long". Implying we got here not long ago. I'm certain "depuis longtemps" is a special case, and don't think "Nous ne sommes pas là depuis trois minutes" is correct. The lesson above states that If we used Le Présent with depuis, it would make it sound like the action "keeps on stopping" during the given length of time. We need to use the past tense, or the present but with "ne... plus" Hope this helps.
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