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’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.
Il y a
A point in time in the past.
A point in time in the future.
The duration of an event.
The duration predicted for an event.
The time required for an event to take place.
A limit in time.
De … á
From the beginning to the end.
Before a certain time.
Avant de + infinitive
Before doing something. After an elapse of time. After having done something.
Après avoir/être + past participle
After an elapse of time.
After having done something.