Here are some simple prepositions used to express time.
Expressions of Time
To translate the English preposition “in”, French uses dans or en, or sometimes au bout de or d’ici.
- Dans refers to the time in the future, “from now”, at which the action will be performed.
- Je commencerais à vider la chambre dans une semaine.
- I’ll start to clear out the room in a week. (in a week from now)
- En refers to the length of time taken to complete an action.
- Nous avons fait le trajet en une heure.
- We did the journey in an hour. (it took an hour)
- Au bout de is used in formal written style for the narration of actions in the past. It translates to “in ( _ minutes/hours)” meaning ” _ minutes/hours later”.
- Jacques quitta son petite amie. Au bout d’une heure il revint.
- Jacques left his girlfriend. In an hour (an hour later) he came back.
- D’ici is used to refer to a point in the future and means “in…from now”.
- D’ici cinq jours notre bureau aura déménagé.
- In five days our office will be moved. (in five days from now)
To translate the English preposition “for”, French uses pour, pendant, or depuis.
- Pour is normally used with reference to a period of time in the future (relative to the speaker) and conveys an idea of purpose.
- Je vais m’inscrire à la faculté pour l’année prochaine.
- I’m going to register at the university for next year.
- Pendant is used to express the duration of an action, and must be used to translate “for” when it refers to an action in the past.
- Le boulanger a fermé son magasin pendant trois semaines.
- The baker closed his shop for three weeks.
- Depuis is used to refer to an action which “has been __-ing / had been __-ing” for a certain period of time.
- J’enseigne dans ce lycée depuis trois ans.
- I’ve been teaching in this school for three years.
“From” can be translated by de, dès, depuis, or à partir de.
- De is commonly used in conjunction with à (from…to)
- Ils ont travaillé du matin au soir.
- They worked from morning to evening.
- Dès conveys the idea “right from…”.
- Dès sa nomination, elle sa renseigna sur la ville.
- From the time of her appointment (as soon as she was appointed), she found out about the town.
- Depuis conveys the idea “from…onwards”.
- Depuis sa maladie, ma grand-mère n’aimait pas habiter toute seule.
- From the time of her illness (onwards), my grandmother did not like living alone.
- A partir de also conveys “from…on”, but usually refers only to the future, and emphasizes the time at which the new situation starts.
- A partir de demain vous serez responsable de la section du marketing.
- From tomorrow you will be responsible for the marketing section.
Hello, readers. I hope you are having a good week. To be honest I wasn’t feeling up to posting. The news of the US presidential election (where I live) has shattered me, but I didn’t want to let you guys down by missing a weekly posting. Keeping busy helps. I sincerely hope you all are well.
Merci à vous,