How to express Duration in French [+14 Examples]

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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
  • the way to download Anki files for how to express duration in 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.

Anki File for How to express Duration in French

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French A2 you can practice every French A2 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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