FR: (pour / pendant) combien de temps

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by nouveau_monde, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. nouveau_monde New Member

    Cantonese Hong Kong
    I'm a beginner and I wanna ask what's the difference between 'pour combien de temps' and 'combien de temps'? This really troubles me. Thanks very much.

    Moderator note: multiple threads merged to create this one
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
     
    : top
  2. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Hello nouveau monde, et bienvenue sur ce forum,

    Basically, "pour combien de temps" = for how long
    "Combien de temps" = how long

    - Je pars en Chine le mois prochain
    - Tu y vas pour combien de temps ?

    Combien de temps dure le film ?
     
  3. nouveau_monde New Member

    Cantonese Hong Kong
    Merci beaucoup.
    Still I'm not quite sure.
    Aren't they both related to duration?
     
  4. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    Hi.
    The preposition "pour" never indicates duration.
    Saying "Je pars en chine pour 2 mois", does not mean "I'm off to China during 2 months" (which does not mean anything, anyway), it means "Je pars en chine pour (y rester) deux mois". That is : "I'm off to China to stay there 2 months". Pour indicates a purpose.
     
  5. nouveau_monde New Member

    Cantonese Hong Kong
    But when raising questions, how to determine when to use 'pour combien de temps' or 'combien de temps'?
     
  6. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    I think that you would be pretty safe if you always used "combien de temps"...
     
  7. Kat LaQ Senior Member

    NY, NY
    English, USA
    Hi - here's my idea for you, nouveau: I think part of the problem is that in English we often drop the "for" before "how long".

    We say: "How long will you be in China?" and "How long is the film?"
    But while you could say "How long will you be in China for?", you can't say " How long is the film for?"
    Another way to think about it is from the point of view of the answer:
    "How long will you be in China?" For 3 months
    "How long is the film?" 2 hours.

    If you CAN use the for in English, I think you need it in French.

    This is not an official grammarian viewpoint, just what seems logical to me.
     
  8. marget Senior Member

    Is it acceptable(grammatically correct) to omit "pendant" at the beginning of this question? Likewise, if the response is "Deux mois", can pendant be omitted here as well?

    Merci d'avance !:)
     
  9. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Answer from a non-grammarian but just as someone who speaks French: yes :D I mean, it's very common but maybe it's not grammatical.

    So you'll be very likely to hear:
    "Tu es resté combien de temps en France ?"
    "Tu es resté en France combien de temps?"


    "Je suis resté deux mois en France."
    sounds even better to me than
    "Je suis resté en France pendant deux mois."

    But now let's see what the grammar says :)
     
  10. gracelandmansion Senior Member

    Nancy, FRANCE
    FRANCE
    it is even better to omit "pendant" .
    "Combien de temps es-tu resté en France" is the best form for written french I think.


    For speaking french "dear prudence" is right.
     
  11. Charlie Parker

    Charlie Parker Senior Member

    English Canada
    Cette question me turlupine encore. Je ne sais jamais si pour combien de temps est correct, d'autant plus que Fred_C dit que cette préposition n'exprime jamais une durée. Cependant, je lis dans mon dictionnaire Larousse : "indique le moment où une chose doit se faire, le terme d'un délai, la durée." Je trouve aussi dans le Robert : "Marquant le terme dans le temps...Pour six mois Pendant six mois à partir de maintenant." Pour reprendre l'exemple de geve :
    - Je pars en Chine le mois prochain.
    - Tu travailleras là-bas ?
    - Non. J'étudierai.
    - Pendant combien de temps y resteras-tu ?
    Voici mon problème. Dans cette dernière phrase je ne sais pas si pendant combien de temps, pour combien de temps ou simplement combien de temps est correct ou bien si tous les trois sont corrects. Quelqu'un peut-il éclairer ma lanterne ?
     
  12. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Montréal
    Français, Québec ♀
    Salut David,

    Parmi les multiples utilisations de « pour », on trouve notamment cette définition dans Antidote, sous « lieu et temps » :
    Fred_C a utilisé le verbe partir. À cet effet, tu peux consulter la page Partir de la BDL :
    Je dirais donc:
    Tu pars pour combien de temps?


    Mais je dirais :
    Tu comptes y rester (p
    endant) combien de temps / (Pendant) combien de temps vas-tu y rester/rester là-bas?

    Je ne serais pas portée à dire « pour » avec le verbe rester (à part l'exemple « pour toujours », d'Antidote). Voir notamment ce fil et cet autre fil (post #5).

    J'espère que ça aidera un peu... mais attendons que les grammairiens se manifestent, s'il y en a dans la salle. ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  13. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France
    France - français
    attends-moi ici, j'en ai pour dix minutes
    ayant tué sa belle-mère, il en a pris pour dix ans
    tu restes ici (pendant) combien de temps ?
     
  14. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    Hello, everyone. I'm a bit confused regarding the usage of combien de temps.
    Here are the example sentences in my french learning book:

    Tu es restée combien de temps? Cing jours.
    Il est parti pour combien de temps? Pour deux jours.

    What difference does it make with or without pour?

    […]
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  15. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Hello gary17

    …pour combien de temps? is equivalent in English to How long…? (The answer you quoted is pour deux jours -- for two days)

    [...]
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  16. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    I don't think you answered my question...maybe my question is not clear enough.
    I have edited my question to make it more understandable.
    I want to know when pour should or should not be added before combien de temps.
     
  17. LurkingFox Junior Member

    Reykjavik
    French & English
    - If the question is in the present about something that is happening right now (eg you notice a colleague is missing, someone tells you they're on vacation, and you ask for how long), you have to have "pour combien de temps". (Pretty much the same as in English btw, but I see English isn't your native language).

    - If the question is in the present about something that is going to happen in the future (eg you ask your colleague about a planned vacation of his),you can say both, but "pour combien de temps" is more correct as it indicates a "plan", a certain contingency. He's going "for" two days, but who knows what could happen.

    - If the question is in the present about something that happened in the past (eg a colleague just came back from holidays), "pour combien de temps" or "combien de temps" (in colloquial French) are about equally valid. You can say both, but "combien de temps" is more correct as the action is done and there is no contingency. You are asking about a fact.

    Hope this helps
    --
     
  18. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    So what does "Il est parti pour combien de temps?" exactly mean,
    is the person asking how long ago his colleague left, or how long his colleague is going to be absent?
    Plus, I remember when
    pour is used for duration of time, it is only grammatically correct to use it for the future, so the sentence really looks weird to me. " Il va partir pour combien de temps?" and "Il est parti pendant combien de temps" looks more correct, but I'm not sure.

     
  19. OLN

    OLN Senior Member

    Alsace, France
    French - France, ♀

    I believe Wildan and LurkingFox answered your question.

    Pour
    quelle durée and pour combien de temps can never mean how long ago.
    *

    "Il est parti
    pour combien de temps ?" : être parti (être + p.p. adjectivé) is a state like be away.
    whereas Quand est-il parti ? is conjugated (passé composé) = When did he leave ?

    Il est parti pour 3 jours can describe the current state or be conjugated : He is away for 3 days (Il est absent pendant 3 jours) or He left at some point and was or is away for 3 days.

    * How long ago did he leave ? = Il est parti il y a combien de temps ? Quand est-il parti ? (passé composé)
    Réponse : Il est parti il y a trois jours = Three days ago
    Depuis quand est-il absent ? (state) Depuis 3 jours.


    - " Il va partir pour combien de temps ?"
    Il va partir means he is about to leave, so it's like asking for how long he intends to be or will be away.

    - "Il est parti pendant combien de temps ?" is for me incorrect because it sounds like the passé composé of partir. It would be a strange question to ask since you cannot take more than a few seconds to actually leave.
    Il est absent pendant or pour combien de temps ?

     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  20. LurkingFox Junior Member

    Reykjavik
    French & English
    > Il est parti pour combien de temps?
    can mean, depending on the context, both
    - "How long was he been gone for" (in which case "est parti" is passé composé, and he has gone and come back, you're just inquiring about the duration)
    - "
    How long is he going to be gone for?" (in which case "est" is in the presnt tense and "parti" is simply the participe of the verb "partir" and using this in the present tense indicates uncertainty about the future - because he is gone NOW so you want to know how long this is going to be the case).

    In any case, this sentence is, French being what it is, necessarily ambiguous. That is why unless the context was self-explanatory, real-life French speakers would probably phrase it differently to be sure they get the information they're after:

    > Il est parti pendant combien de temps?
    Can only mean "How long was he been gone for". The action is over, the duration is known.

    > Il est parti depuis combien de temps?
    Can only mean "How long has he been gone for?" He is gone NOW, when he is going to come back isn't necessarily known but when he LEFT is a known fact.

    [...]

    > Spoken French: Il sera pas là pendant combien de temps?" / "Il va pas être là pour combien de temps?"
    "How long will he not be there?" Warning: This is colloquial, spoken French only. Not very grammatically sound, but the only way I can think of to ask, without any ambiguity, ""How long is he going to be gone for?". Obviously this should only be taken as an indication and answer to this specific thread, since the phrasing is very specific to this situation, and therefore cannot be used for any other sentences asking about unknown duration.

    Does that answer your question?
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  21. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    (Wow... I really am delving into something complicated here!!)
    Here's my understanding:
    Il est parti il y a combien de temps
    (passé composé, specifying the moment of partir)= Il est parti depuis combien de temps (present tense, describing a state of being parti)
    Is that correct?
     
  22. LurkingFox Junior Member

    Reykjavik
    French & English
    The overall meaning is the same yes, although if you want to get precise there's a tiny subtle difference
    Il est parti il y a combien de temps : asks more about the moment they left (lit. when was the moment they left)
    Il est parti depuis combien de temps :
    asks more about the duration of their absence (lit. how long has he been gone for?)
     
  23. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    And back to the other sentence: Tu es restée combien de temps?
    I suppose it means" How long did you stay?", implying that this staying event is over, so it wouldn't hurt adding pendant
    ---> Tu es restée pendant combien de temps?
     
  24. Anna-chonger Senior Member

    Chinese
    Mais c'est juste pour le verbe RESTER, ou bien c'est aussi valable avec d'autres verbes ? travailler, dormir, manger, etc ?

    Merci pour votre attention !
     
  25. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France
    France - français
    J'ai travaillé / séjourné / étudié/ vécu deux mois en France.
     
  26. Anna-chonger Senior Member

    Chinese
    D'accord !

    Et... "Il a mangé 2 heures" ne parait pas un peu bizarre ?

    Et puis "Je vais continuer 20 minutes" ?
     
  27. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France
    France - français
    Il a dormi deux heures. Il a marché deux jours et deux nuits. Il s'est reposé une heure.
     
  28. Anna-chonger Senior Member

    Chinese
    D'accord je vois... Il s'agit de verbes intransitifs.

    Merci janpol.
     

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