Clarifying using depuis in the negative

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'?

This relates to:
Using Le Passé Composé or Le Présent in negative sentences with ''depuis'' -

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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