"Il y a bien longtemps."

Translation:A very long time ago.

January 2, 2013

46 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/lopezdespencer

IDIOM!!!!! arrgh!

June 25, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/douglab

I wish DuoLingo gave hints about idioms!

September 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/jonesd1959

Or at least only count them half off

November 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/informatie

I agree

May 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/alankas

He happy that you have learnt something new

June 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/NessaNessaJoy

why is "it has been a very long time" wrong?

January 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"it has been a very long time" means "depuis très longtemps" (duration, continuous action, not finished), while "il y a-ago" means that the action is in the past and finished.

January 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Faranae

The only problem I see if that "a very long time ago" is not a complete sentence in English, and the French is, in fact, a complete sentence. Is "it was a very long time ago" accepted?

January 25, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/pauraque

No, it isn't accepted (it's what I put in), but I think I understand why not. "Il y a" just means "ago" in this context, so the French actually isn't a full sentence I guess.

April 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Right ! although this is a full sentence with subject + verb, "il y a" works like a block. We would say "c'était il y a bien/très longtemps" (it was a very long time ago)

April 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/boringtomi

Why wouldn't it accept "very long time ago"? I don't really feel the "a" is necessary there...

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Ronnie-JA

This should have been the example presented in Duo. Much better imo. Thanks

January 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/lgalarra

Now clear, thanks a lot!

September 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/cipolla-friendly

Is this how the fairy tails begin in french?

August 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Yes, a good, modern way to start a story.

In the old days, stories started with "Il était une fois" (once upon a time)

August 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Perseph1955

Or, fairy tales, if you please. Fairies do not typically have tails!

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/ubernichts

I was struggling to understand what that meant in English, but then I translated it to Portuguese and all became quite clear to me:

French:

  • C'était (1) il y a (2) longtemps (3)

Portuguese:

  • Foi (1) há (2) muito tempo (3)

In Portuguese and Spanish, the verb "to do" is used the same way:

Portuguese:

  • Foi (1) faz (2) muito tempo (3)

Spanish:

  • Fue (1) hace (2) mucho tiempo (3)
September 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/test_tube

I am so confused. My suggested translation was "It has been a long time", and I was marked wrong for it. I understand what Sitesurf said - that the action must have ceased in the past - however one translation duolingo suggested was "It has been very long time" (which makes no sense without the small article (A) between "been" and "very"), and that construction does not put the time of action in the past at all. I gave this sentence to Goggle Translate, and that program could not handle it, giving the translation as "there has long". I guess that from now on, whenever the sentence pops up, I will put down the fairy tale opening "A long time ago" and be done with the matter.

November 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Ronnie-JA

What Sitesurf is saying means that "il y a" when talking about a period in time simply means "ago". Now, using this knowledge, we translate bien longtemps or tres longtemps - maybe idiomatic but means "a very long time". Put the two together and you have "a very long time (bien longtemps) ago (il y a)".

January 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/tkbywater

thanks, that makes it all a lot clearer!

January 31, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/SourireCache

In this expression, couldn't longtemps be translated as 'awhile'?

July 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/page47

I would also like to know this!

July 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/evegraham212

why does duoling not allow the substitution of really/very?

July 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Muteao

Me too, I wrote 'It has been a really long time' and Duolingo marked it wrong.

November 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/podbay
  • 1392

... In a galaxy far far away

November 12, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/etp333

Why doesn't "It's a very long time." work here? There has to be a reference to the past?

June 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ubernichts

The "il y a", equivalent to "there is" in English, seems to be used in French the same way as in Portuguese, to indicate how much time has past since the said event.

  • C'était (event) il y a (since that event, there is) longtemps (amount of time past)

In Portuguese (my native language):

  • Foi (event) há (since that event, there is) muito tempo (amount of time past)
September 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/mishapuppy

I answered "it as really been a long time" because of the "bien". I think this is correct, but not sure enough to mark it as a mistake. Anyone?

January 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Ronnie-JA

No, the explanations above are good but the simple reason this is wrong is that there is no possessive ("c'est /it's") in the French translation of the sentence. Also "il y a" here, when talking about a period of time, means "ago" - http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/ilya.htm.

It does not mean the usual "there is" or 'there are". It has been would also be "il a été".

January 31, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchAddict7

So, let me get this straight. This is an idiom?

February 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Ronnie-JA

I think so, in so much as the use of "il y a" here is different to its direct translation and there is an implied preposition in "longtemps" here, that is "[A] long time..."

February 7, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchAddict7

thanks

February 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/beachkbk

"Long time ago" was not accepted for me. The "a" is not optional according to duo

August 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/mathwizard1232

"A rather long time ago" is just as jolly good a way to say "A very long time ago" as any, wot?

February 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/sweet9J

Je ne comprends pas

April 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Ronnie-JA

What exactly? Nothing in the thread helps?

April 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/shemp

Duo is now accepting: " it's been a very long time".

April 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/greatlanguages

Where is the WAS? One correct answer given was: It was a very long time ago. Shouldn't that be: Il y avait bien longtemps.

May 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrew48

Why is "a good long time ago" not accepted? That is the most direct English equivalent of the idiomatic usage of "bien" in French.

November 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrew48

Thinking about it, I realized that my proposed sentence probably isn't grammatically correct, strictly speaking. "Good" isn't an adverb, and thus cannot modify an adjective. It's hard to know when Duolingo will be "correct" and when it will allow common colloquialisms as well, but I'll just have to accept that it isn't the latter in this case. :P

November 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Jaiida

I wrote "it's been a long time. " and it was marked correct.

November 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/jmango2

Does "it's been a while" work? At least to me they convey the same idea.

November 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"it's been a while" is an understatement = cela/ça fait un moment

November 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/shg48vu

'a while ago' seems as though it should also fit??

December 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"a while ago" = il y a un moment, il y a quelque temps, il y a un certain temps.

It could mean one hour ago as well as some time ago, but not "il y a longtemps" = a long time ago

December 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/chrysaphi

I tried "A really long time ago" on the phone app and was rejected - if "really" isn't accepted as a synonym for "very" (and I think it should be, in this context!) then "really" shouldn't appear as an option on the phone exercise.

February 20, 2015
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