They are used to describe how long you have been doing something for, since …, or ____ (amount of time) ago
Depuis is a French preposition meaning “for” or “since” when followed by a reference to time. It is used with the present tense (it can also be used with an event and the imperfect tense).
~With a given period of time = _____ has/d been happening for that amount of time.
~With a specific point in time = _____ has/d been happening since that time/event.
|J’étudie depuis deux heures.||I’ve been studying for two hours.|
|Elle t’écoute depuis 8h15.||She’s been listening to you since 8:15.|
Note that there is no French equivalent for these verbal constructions. “Has been happening” must be translated by the present, while “had been happening” is the imperfect.
Il y a
Past tense + il y a + amount of time indicates that something happened that amount of time ago.
|J’ai mangé il y a une heure.||I ate an hour ago.|
|Nous sommes revenues il y a une semaine.||We came back a week ago.|
|Elle a joué au foot il y a 15 minutes.||She played soccer 15 minutes ago|
Sommaire: Depuis vs Il y a
- Past tense + il y a + period of time
- Present tense + depuis + period of time