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In this grammar lesson you will learn how to express duration in French.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • how to express duration in French
  • how the terms are used in French sentences
  • how you can quiz yourself on how to express duration in French
  • how to practice with flashcards on how to express duration in French
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn French

Please refer to the French A2 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about how this fits in the overall structure of French A2.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about how to express duration in French!

Table of Contents

Ongoing Durations = Depuis

You use “depuis” to express an ongoing duration.

You will use the following construction:

  • depuis + [durée] = for + [duration]

Je vis en Allemagne depuis un an.

I’ve been living in Germany for one year.

Je vis à Tôkyô depuis 1985.

I have lived in Tokyo since 1985.

Tu travailles depuis deux heures.

You’ve been working for two hours.

Il habite ici depuis une semaine.

He has lived here for one week.

Il suit un régime depuis deux mois.

He has been on a diet for two months.

Nous nous connaissons depuis des années.

We have known each other for years.

In every example you can see that an action started in the past, but that it is still ongoing.

Please note that you can only use depuis with affirmative statements in the present tense.

It is impossible to use depuis with affirmative statements in the passé composé.

Duration with a clear beginning and end = Pendant

You use “pendant” to express a duration with a clear start and end.

You will use the following construction:

  • pendant + [durée] = for + [duration]

J’ai habité à Lille pendant deux ans, mais maintenant j’habite à Rotterdam.

I lived in Lille for two years, but now I live in Rotterdam.

Elle lisait pendant des heures.

She used to read for hours.

Chaque jour, nous promenons le chien pendant une heure.

Every day we walk the dog for one hour.

Ils passent le fil dentaire pendant 2 minutes.

They floss for 2 minutes.

You can see that every action has a clear start and end.

All of these actions can take place in the past, present, or future.

Future Duration = Pour

You use “pour” to express a duration in the future.

You will use the following construction:

  • pour + [durée] = for + [duration]

Je voudrais emprunter ta voiture pour une heure.

I would like to borrow your car for an hour.

Il va à Ibiza pour les vacances.

He is going to Ibiza for the holiday.

Ils partent pour trois semaines en septembre.

They are going away for three weeks in September.

In all of the examples, you are talking about a future duration.

Please note that in some cases, it is possible to use both pendant and pour, as the durations have a clear start and end.

Ils partent pour trois semaines en septembre.

They are going away for three weeks in September.

Ils partent pendant trois semaines en septembre.

They are going away for three weeks in September.

Sentences Overview of How to express Duration in French

The final section of this lesson on how to express duration in French is about seeing the terms in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on how to express duration in French through examples.

Here you can find all of the sentences used in the previous chapters, neatly organised in one place.

Je vis en Allemagne depuis un an.

I’ve been living in Germany for one year.

Je vis à Tôkyô depuis 1985.

I have lived in Tokyo since 1985.

Tu travailles depuis deux heures.

You’ve been working for two hours.

Il habite ici depuis une semaine.

He has lived here for one week.

Il suit un régime depuis deux mois.

He has been on a diet for two months.

Nous nous connaissons depuis des années.

We have known each other for years.

J’ai habité à Lille pendant deux ans, mais maintenant j’habite à Rotterdam.

I lived in Lille for two years, but now I live in Rotterdam.

Elle lisait pendant des heures.

She used to read for hours.

Chaque jour, nous promenons le chien pendant une heure.

Every day we walk the dog for one hour.

Ils passent le fil dentaire pendant 2 minutes.

They floss for 2 minutes.

Je voudrais emprunter ta voiture pour une heure.

I would like to borrow your car for an hour.

Il va à Ibiza pour les vacances.

He is going to Ibiza for the holiday.

Ils partent pour trois semaines en septembre.

They are going away for three weeks in September.

Ils partent pendant trois semaines en septembre.

They are going away for three weeks in September.

Quiz Yourself on How to express Duration in French

It’s not enough to just read this lesson.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want.

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information on flashcards and the best way to learn a new language.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

Anki is a free software with which you can create and practice flashcards.

After you have downloaded Anki, you can get our French A2 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 3,816 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for French A2.

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to learn a new language?

I have been learning languages for over 20+ years and I was always frustrated with books, courses, and classes that I had tried.

It never really seemed to work for me.

I wanted to learn a language in the most effective and efficient way, and there was nothing out there for me.

So I thought, “why not make something myself?“.

Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be a easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

However, I also created courses that are much more comprehensive and in-depth.

These courses are easy to follow, clear, and allow you to become fluent in the most effective and efficient way.

The courses of Language Atlas have:

  • 800+ Lessons with audio
  • 800+ Quizzes
  • 10,000 Flashcards with explanations, images, and audio
  • A gamified way of learning a new language
  • A vibrant community (including support from me)

You can register for free and try the French A0/A1 and Spanish A0/A1 Courses for free!

This includes over 60 lessons and quizzes, 500 flashcards that adapt to how you learn, and access to the community (including support from me).

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Don’t miss out – register for free and start learning!

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