FR: How long has/have X been

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kathers1000

Senior Member
English
bonjour, je voudrais savoir comment on dirait 'How long has Georges been learning German?'

mon essai - Georges a appris l'allmand depuis quand mais je pense que mon essai est une traduction complete alors ce n'est pas le meme maniere qu'on la dirait en francais.

je vous mercie en avance
kathers
 
  • jann

    co-mod'
    English - USA
    In French, we use the present with depuis constructions if we are talking about things that are still true in the present. George is still learning German now, so we will use the present (even though he started learning German at some point in the past).

    How long has George been learning German?
    Depuis combien de temps George apprend-il l'allemand ?
    Depuis combien de temps est-ce que George apprend l'allemand ?


    Notice that we can't use quand/when because you wanted to ask how long he has been learning (a duration) instead of when he started learning (a specific date).
     

    robinp

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I think:
    i think it would be:
    Georges apprend l'allmand depuis quand?
    or ca fait combien de temps que george apprend l'allmand?
    but i'd wait for a french person to reply
     

    jann

    co-mod'
    English - USA
    George apprend l'allemand depuis quand? :cross: = When did George begin to study German?
    (The sentence is correct, but it doesn't mean the same thing.) ;)

    Ça fait combien de temps que George apprend l'allemand? :tick: = How long has it been that George has been learning German?
    (This is another nice option) :)
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    Actually, Jann, I think what you mean to say is that the two interrogatives ask for different replies. Either form may translate How long has George been learning German?

    Depuis quand Georges apprend-il l'allemand? - Depuis l'année passée.
    Depuis combien de temps Georges apprend-il l'allemand? - Depuis deux ans.
     

    jann

    co-mod'
    English - USA
    Actually, Jann, I think what you mean to say is that the two interrogatives ask for different replies. Either form may translate How long has George been learning German?
    Well, no, that's not really what I meant to say. We agree on the different replies expected... but as far as I am concerned, in that the two versions of the sentence request different replies, they do not mean quite the same thing. And since the reply "(Since) last year" does not technically respond to the question "How long has George been learning German?" I would argue that you cannot really say that both French forms are acceptable translations for the English sentence... any more than you could say that "How long...?" and "(Since) when...?" are the same question in English. They do, however, generate mathematically equivalent answers to describe the same concept, regardless of the language. :p
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    To me, Since when has George been learning German? is an unlikely question in English, unless one is skeptical about George's learning English. In my opinion, and practically speaking, English uses How long regardless of the specific response one is after.
     

    trench feature

    Senior Member
    USA Anglais
    It seems to me that, in English, "How long..." can be answered by "for ... amount of time" or "since ..." In French, however, I suppose that the distinction is finer between "depuis quand" and "depuis combien de temps" ? Is this so?
     

    Areyou Crazy

    Senior Member
    England English speaker
    Jann the sentence below doesn't even seem to be English to me!
    I've never heard anyone say that. You include 'been' twice in close proximity which sounds weird!
    I thought it was more natural to say
    How long is it that George has been learning German
    even if you sentence is more logical it still seems weird...
    I'm sure I haven't had too much wine tonight...


    Ça fait combien de temps que George apprend l'allemand? :tick: = How long has it been that George has been learning German?
    ++(This is another nice option) :)
    but I see you were referring to the French and not the English ...
     

    jann

    co-mod'
    English - USA
    Areyou Crazy said:
    Jann the sentence below doesn't even seem to be English to me!
    I've never heard anyone say that. You include 'been' twice in close proximity which sounds weird!
    I thought it was more natural to say
    How long is it that George has been learning German
    geostan said:
    To me, Since when has George been learning German? is an unlikely question in English,
    Fair enough. But I didn't write those sentences to suggest a "good way to say it in English." I wrote them to illustrate the differences in meaning of the French sentences.

    My initial suggestion for a more natural English translation of "Depuis quand Georges apprend-il l'allemand?" was:
    When did George begin to study German?
    ...and only when the discussion got more in-depth did I write out less natural but more literal English translations for illustrative purposes. :p

    I'm sorry if it wasn't clear!
     
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