Depuis, Pour, Pendant, Il y a
Expressing Amounts of Time in French
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If an event began in the past and continues into the present, use depuis with the present tense.
👉 I have been living in France for five years.
👉 J’habite en France depuis cinq ans.
Pendant literally means “during”, but it is usually best expressed in English as ‘for’ followed by an amount of time. It can be used with all tenses.
👉 We will be in Italy for two weeks.
👉 On sera en Italie pendant deux semaines.
PENDANT is used with the passé composé to indicate how long an activity lasted. Be careful not to use DEPUIS with the passé composé.
👉 We waited for you for thirty minutes.
👉 Nous t’avons attendu pendant trente minutes.
Pour can be used in a variety of contexts. When we translate it as ‘for’ in English, it can be used to designate the duration of a future event with the verbs partir and aller. Note that the verb may be conjugated in either the present or future tenses.
👉 We are going on vacation for 2 days.
👉 On part en vacances pour 2 jours.
👉 We will go on vacation for 2 days.
👉 On partira en vacances pour 2 jours.
If you want to use partir and aller in the past you need pendant.
👉 We went on vacation for 2 days.
👉 On est partis en vacances pendant 2 jours.
IL Y A
Il y a means ‘there is’ or ‘there are’, but it can also indicate the amount of time passed between a completed action and the moment that you’re speaking. It means ago in English.
👉 I talked to my aunt a few days ago.
👉 J’ai parlé à ma tante il y a quelques jours.