Il y a + duration = Ago (expressions of time)

Look at these sentences:

J'ai mangé il y a une heure.
I ate an hour ago.

Il est venu à Londres il y a cinq ans.
He came to London five years ago.

Ils sont arrivés il y a trois jours.
They arrived three days ago.



Notice that to say "ago" in French, you use the expression "il y a" followed by the time duration.

You cannot say ''un mois il y a'' (unless you're Yoda!)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ils sont arrivés il y a trois jours.
They arrived three days ago.


Il est venu à Londres il y a cinq ans.
He came to London five years ago.


J'ai mangé il y a une heure.
I ate an hour ago.


La bataille de Waterloo a eu lieu il y a 200 ans.
The battle of Waterloo took place 200 years ago.


Q&A

Lianne

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2018

2 replies

Purpose of rendu

'Nous t'avons rendu visite il y a une semaine.'

What is the purpose of rendu in this sentence if visiter can be used as a verb? Possible to say “Nous t’avons visité il y a une semaine”

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

27 August 2018

27/08/18

Hi Lianne,


In French the verb 'visiter' means 'to visit' in the sense of doing a tour of,  so it used for places of interest, countries, towns, houses you might buy etc...


For visiting people you would use the verb 'rendre visite à quelqu'un' , hence the word 'rendu' as it is the past participle of 'rendre'.


Take a look at the following lesson which will give you lots of examples of each -


https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/visiter-versus-rendre-visite-a-visiting-places-versus-visiting-people


Hope this helps!

Lianne

Kwiziq community member

27 August 2018

27/08/18

Super! Merci Ceçile!

CB

Kwiziq community member

15 April 2017

3 replies

Why is it not "J'ai habité DEPUIS cinq ans"?

This is what I seem to recall having been taught at school (admittedly, a very long time ago!).

CB

Kwiziq community member

15 April 2017

15/04/17

Sorry - meant to type "J'ai habité ici DEPUIS cinq ans."!!!

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Bonjour CB !

"Depuis" implies that the action is not yet finished, it is still ongoing in the present (you're still living there), which in French is incompatible with Le Passé Composé. This tense only refers to actions that are past and over with in French, similarly to the Simple Past in English (I lived there).
If you wanted to express that you lived there for five years, but it's over now, you wouldn't use the word "depuis" but "pendant" (during), as such:
"J'ai habité à Paris pendant cinq ans, mais maintenant j'habite à Londres."

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

CB

Kwiziq community member

18 April 2017

18/04/17

Thank you for that clarification. Now I merely have to commit it to memory!!!

w

Kwiziq community member

16 November 2016

1 reply

why use 5 ans, instead of 5 années?

Jim

Kwiziq community member

23 November 2016

23/11/16

Il y a cinq ans = 5 years ago, where each year is a period of time.
Each of these periods has a duration = 365 days and are counted from 1 Jan to the 31 Dec.
The time period = un an, but the time duration of each period = une année.
Hope this helps.
Alan

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