1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. help with a confusing sentence


help with a confusing sentence

"c'est un bail que j'apprends francais" this means something like, its ages ago since I've learned french. But they dont use passé composé. they use the present form. why?

in another sentece they said "c'est un bail que je suis allé au cinema" Here they use past tense, and not present tense. Could someone explain?

(My grammar terms might be off, but hope you understand anyways"

July 12, 2017



"Cela fait un bail que j'apprends le français" L'action n'est pas terminée, j'apprends encore le français maintenant, donc j'utilise le présent. "Cela fait un bail que je suis allé au cinéma" L'action est terminée, je ne vais pas au cinéma maintenant, donc j'utilise le passé composé.


And of course, 'ça' instead of 'cela' in informal speech.


For things that are still happening, they use the present tense.

E.g. J'habite ici depuis sept ans (I've been living here for 7 years).

So, in the first sentence you mentioned, the translation is I've been learning French for ages.

In the second, which uses the compound past, the translation is It's ages since I went to the cinema.

Because they 'went to the cinema' and that action is over. However they 'have been learning French' and have not yet stopped.

Hope this helps you!


You're welcome :)


If I may ask, why are you learning so many languages at the same time


I'm actually only focussing on three at a time, with French as the priority. (I'd go crazy if I tried to learn more than that at the same time!) When I've got to the same level with Spanish and Italian as I have with French, I plan to go back and work on Portuguese and Turkish .


Do you practice all the languages everyday? Also do you ever speak to anyone in your languages

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.