depuis quand / depuis combien de temps

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by ProfCalifornie, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. ProfCalifornie Member

    USA, English
    So is there a difference? I have a friend who has a student who is a native French speaker saying they are the same. I don't believe that they are the same.

    I can see the point of the native speaker thinking it's the same thing...but they are not the same.
    Depuis quand means since when - meaning you need a starting date/time/day.

    Depuis combien de temps is not the same - it implies that you need to give an amount of time that something has been happening/done. Do remember that just because a student is a native speaker does not mean they are the end all be all of grammar rules.

    There are two different implications of depuis - for and since, and those are not the same in English either.

    J'habite dans le Midi depuis cinq annees. (I've been living in the Midi for 5 years) - This introduces a period of time - (depuis quand habites-tu dans le Midi?)

    J'habite dans le Midi depuis le 3 septembre 1998. (I've been living in the Midi since Sept. 3 1998.) - giving a specific time . (Depuis combien de temps habites-tu dans le Midi?) This also implies that I am still living in the Midi, however it's not asking the same thing in my view.

    Am I insane? Are they the same? I've checked all of my grammar books and it seems to me they are different, and though I'm not a native speaker I've been studying French since I was 5 years old (depuis 1981). :)

    Merci bien tout le monde.

    Moderator note: multiple threads merged to create this one
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2010
  2. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    You're not insane at all !:D
    That's exactly what you said :thumbsup:. A question beginning with "depuis" has two answers : a starting point or a duration.
  3. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Strictly speaking, you're right: depuis quand = since when; depuis combien de temps = how long. However, in everyday speech, it would not be uncommon to hear the following dialog:

    Depuis quand es-tu au chômage ?
    — Oh, ça doit faire deux mois.
  4. dobby Member


    I was wondering if there's any difference between
    "dupuis quand" and "depuis combien de temps"
    are they interchangeable??

  5. francis0077 Senior Member

    Depuis quand: réponse attendue : depuis lundi, le mois passé, depuis les dernières vacances..
    depuis cb de temps: réponse: depuis 2 jours, 3 semaines, 4 ans.... (une duréee plutôt qu'une date ou un moment précis)
    Mais à part cela si on te demande depuis quand tu fais du foot, tu peux répondre:
    depuis 3 ans.
    ils sont donc presque interchangeables.
  6. dobby Member

    so do you mean when asking questions,

    "depuis quand" is more like asking "since when" and
    "depuis combien de temps" is "how long"

    will the answers==> "J'habite ici depuis 1999" work for both questions?
    1.Depuis quand habites-tu ici?
    2.Depuis combien de temps habites-tu ici?

    or for the second one I should say "I've been living here for 10 years" and how can I put that in french?

    merci beaucoup!
  7. francis0077 Senior Member

    Oui c'est comme since when et how long
    Logiquement si on me demande depuis combien de temps j'habite ici, je répondrai plutôt depuis 10 ans, parce que c'est facile à calculer...Mais si j'ai la flegme de faire le calcul je pourrais aussi répondre: depuis 1987 (par exemple..)
    En fait c'est un peu un faux problème...
  8. relaxedme New Member

    I am sorry if this seems a silly question but are ´depuis quand´and ´depuis combien de temps´exactly the same, are they interchangeable?

    For ex, 1. depuis combien de temps tu travailles ici?
    2. depuis quand tu travailles ici?

    Is it that in the first example the answer should be Je travaille ici depuis six mois ( a period of time) and in the second it would be ´ depuis 2009´( a date) ?
  9. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    It seems to me that you have answered your own question. :)

    As you say, depuis combien de temps is a request for a period of time... and depuis quand is a request for a date. Therefore, the two questions are very similar. Given the answer to one question, anyone with elementary math skills can figure out the answer to the other -- and as a result, people mix the answers all the time in everyday speech. But strictly speaking, the questions are not interchangeable, and on an exam you would be expected to demonstrate that you understand the difference between them.

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