"Er hat seit gestern frei."
Translation:He has been free since yesterday.
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I have to disagree—I think "He is free since yesterday" is acceptable, it's simply a matter of emphasis. If you are working in the present tense, you might want to maintain that voice. Consider this as the beginning of a short story: "He sits at the table. He looks at the breakfast laid out before him. He realizes he is free. He is free since yesterday." That would be an acceptable stylistic choice.
The question is whether or not the German sentence is emphasizing the moments leading up to, but not necessarily including the present state of being. To say "he has been free since yesterday" implies that he is currently still free, but it doesn't emphasize that explicitly.
Yes, however, Duo does not allow for the stylistic, colloquial contexts, let alone " voice" issues. All these things directly and indirectly affect the everyday working and understanding of English. There is no indication from Duo, about the phrase having anything to do with " the beginning ..." of anything! What you are discussing has everything to do with what the reader/listener is interpreting themselves, from an otherwise ... empty phrase.
This sentence just doesn't work without the present perfect - "He is free since..." Is grammatically illogical in English, because the "since" means that the state occurred in the past and continues to (or at least affects) the present. The action is past tense because him becoming free happened in the past, but he continues to be so in the present. The haben frei/sein frei distinction is immaterial.
No one would know what you were talking about if you said "in holidays" in the USA (not sure about the UK). If he is taking time off from work, the most usual way of saying it in English in the USA would be: "He has been on vacation since yesterday."
I'm not aware of any parts of the USA where "holiday" is used interchangeably with "vacation." "Vacation" is time off from your job. A "holiday" is a specific day on the calendar - like Christmas or Easter. We may get time off from work on a holiday, or we may take a vacation that coincides with a holiday, but no one over here that I know takes a holiday.
Those phrases are used, but they aren't normally used (in my experience) interchangeably with vacation. I might "take a vacation over the Christmas holiday(s)." Christmas holiday(s) and school holidays are periods of time on a calendar. Vacation is an extended break from your job that may or may not coincide with a holiday on the calendar. If someone has a counter-example that I'm forgetting, please be my guest. :-)
Your statement mixes present tense with past. It should be, 'He has been on holiday since yesterday' or 'He has been on his holidays since yesterday'. The 1st part (has been) tells us it (the holiday) has already begun and the 2nd part (since yesterday) tells when it begun. Also you are on holiday, not in holiday. Though to confuse matters you can talk about what you plan to do, or did, in your holiday. In this case, in means during.
I believe 'Ich habe frei' means 'I have the time off' - much like the English 'I am free' in response to 'Are you free tomorrow?'. So it doesn't necessarily mean 'holiday', it could just be that you have the afternoon off.
It doesn't mean 'I am free' in the 'I am no longer in prison' sense, that would be 'Ich bin frei'.
Going back over my tree and have encountered this lesson again. While the discussion below is interesting and I enjoy reading it, we are clearly into the realm of idiomatic differences. If a bilingual German/English speaker could tell me when you would say this in German, and what the corresponding English would be - that would be great.
I don't think "He has been free since yesterday" is an accurate translation of the German "Er hat seit gestern frei."
Freihaben is a verb with a separable prefix that means "to have time off." https://www.wordreference.com/deen/freihaben https://en.langenscheidt.com/german-english/freihaben
Thus "Er hat seit gestern frei" literally means (after adjusting the word order) "He has time off since yesterday."
As noted elsewhere in the discussion, however, in English we generally use the present perfect with "since." So a better English translation would be "He has had time off since yesterday."
Of course, as discussed above, there are numerous other possibilities, such has "He has been on holiday (or vacation) since yesterday." But I don't think "He has been free since yesterday" is one of them.