Time prepositions in French


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Time prepositions in French are short words that indicate when an action takes place, for how long it occurs, or in what order events occur.

French has a number of prepositions to express time. While you may be understood if you say “Je vais partir en 6 heures”, it is awkward sounding to the french ear. By the end of this blog, you will no longer make this mistake!

There are some key prepositions which will put you well on the path of mastering the French approach to time.


A duration, from a time in the past, where the action continues to a specified point (“for” or “since”). That point may be in the present (“have been”) or in the past (“had been”).

J’apprends le français depuis 12 mois.
J’apprenais le français depuis 12 mois quand je suis allé à Paris.

Il y a … que, ça fait … que , and voilà … que are informal equivalents of the first use of “depuis” above.

Depuis que

Depuis qu’il habite ici, il est content.

Il y a

A point in time in the past.
Je l’ai rencontrée il y a longtemps.


A point in time in the future.
Je vais partir dans 6 heures.


The duration of an event.
Il a plu pendant deux jours.

Pendant que

Il fait le babysitting pendant que sa femme travaille.


The duration predicted for an event.
Il sera en centre ville pour quatre heures.


The time required for an event to take place.
Il a achévé le marathon en trois heures.


A limit in time.
Je travaille jusqu’a 14h00.

De … á

From the beginning to the end.


Before a certain time.

Avant de + infinitive

Before doing something.


After an elapse of time.

Après avoir/être + past participle

After having done something.

Prepositions of time in French are crucial for constructing precise and coherent sentences, thus enabling clear communication in terms of time.
Prepositions of time in French are also an essential element in grammar for passing the DELF exams from level A1.

Learning time prepositions with French via Skype

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