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Dealing With Sentences with "Depuis Que"

IMO, the most frustrating parts of this module are sentences that contain "depuis que", mostly because of how Duolingo expects you to translate them. Both the French and English versions are awkward, but I think I've figured out quick guidelines to help everyone keep those three hearts.

Here are a couple guidelines for getting these translations correct (as of 10/1/13):

1) The main clause (at the beginning) should always be in present perfect progressive, e.g. "I have been pretty", "I have been reading", and "she has been writing".

2) The subordinate clause (following "depuis que") should be in present perfect progressive except when it refers to something that is no longer true. In that case, it should be in past simple.

  • "...depuis que je suis blond" = "...since I have been blond" (I'm still blond)
  • "...depuis que je suis jeune" = "...since I was young" (I'm no longer young)

When the subordinate clause is about age, you can assume it's going to be in past tense.

I have no idea why Duo translates it like this. Just go with it and know that nobody really speaks like this in either language.

Explanation: "Depuis que" translates to "since", but this is misleadingly simple for three reasons.

One, this "since" is about time, not causation. It's "since the time" rather than "because". For instance, "...depuis que je suis blond" means "since I have been blond", not "because I am blond".

Two, the English present perfect progressive tense ("I have been") can translate to the French simple present tense ("je suis"), as you can see above.

Three, "depuis" is just a preposition (e.g. "Since when?" = "Depuis quand?") but "depuis que" is a subordinating conjunction, which is the start of a subordinating clause. That's the difference between "depuis" and "depuis que".

EDIT: Changed rule #2 to be more generalized. Thanks to Sitesurf.

October 2, 2013



your third point is the best way to remember, I think (I am French): "depuis" is a preposition indicating a point in the past and means "starting from". that point can be either

  • point in past like a date, year/ hour/ day : depuis 1920 (since 1920, and actually it also can mean: "established 1920" for shop or company); other example: "je t'attends depuis 15.30" (i have been waiting for you since half past 3)

  • point in the past like a described event "depuis son accident" (since his accident), "depuis l'arrivée de ses parents" (since his parents arrived)...

  • point in the past described in a more complex way : starting with "que/qu'" added: "depuis que tu fais du vélo, tu vas beaucoup mieux" (since you started cycling, you are feeling much better) or "depuis qu'il a gagné au loto, il est insupportable!" (since he won the lottery, he's become obnoxious!).

emphasis on "starting point the the past". hope that helps

October 6, 2013


Thanks for pointing this out - it really helps me to get this concept into my head!

November 3, 2013


You're doing God's work, friend. Keep it up.

October 2, 2013


Thank you for this. I've been flunking conjunctions lesson 2 and was about to quit the app entirely.

October 8, 2013


Thanks so much for caring enough to leave this info. It did help and like you said one just has to get through it even if it doesn't seem to follow perfectly the rules of French grammar. It reminds me of a strange twist on the French Subjonctif without following the Subjonctif rules.Also recall from middle school learning the Subjonctif much later after learning most all grammar and tenses first.So it was bothersome to say the least ,as others have said,it seems like they are throwing us a curve ball out of the blue just when everything seemed to be progressing so nicely.

December 24, 2013


Merci beaucoup! Je veux qu'on peut donner un lingot pour votre "question".

January 4, 2014

[deactivated user]

    Voulez-vous dire: Je veux vous donner un lingot pour votre ''question''.

    September 21, 2018


    Nice hints. Although a bit of confusion over present perfect progressive. "She has been writing" is present perfect progressive but "I have been pretty" is present perfect simple (and a bit odd, more probable is "I have been tired/late/absent... a lot recently". "I have read" is also present perfect simple. "I have been reading" is present perfect progressive.

    January 8, 2014


    Thanks for the help

    February 1, 2014


    I want to say "I have been learning French since August 2015." Is this correct: "J'ai appris francaise depuis que aout 2015" ?

    June 20, 2016


    August 2015 is a date not a subordinate clause - even though it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, it does not contain a subject and a verb. Therefore, I think you only need the preposition depuis here (Depuis quand? Depuis août 2015.). Also the language is not feminine so no "e" on the end of "français". It is explained very well here - https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1024658

    June 20, 2016


    Thank you ripcurlgirl!

    June 29, 2016

    [deactivated user]

      J'ai appris le français depuis août 2015. 1) No que here 2)French here is a noun, the French language, so it is always le français, never française, which is an adjective for feminine nouns. Hope this helps.

      September 21, 2018
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