What's the difference between pendant and depuis?

 

The difference between pendant and depuis in French grammar can be difficult to make, especially for English-speaking learners of French. Indeed, you can't literally translated since into depuis and for into pendant. The key to understanding the two adverbs is to know whether we are talking about a duration in the past or a duration still ongoing in the present.

Dialogue section for the page explaining the difference between qui and que in French

Pendant is used with the passé composé when an action only happened in the past. It is no longer happening in the present.

 

J’ai enseigné le français pendant plus de 40 ans. Maintenant, je suis retraité.

I taught French for 40 years. Now, I’m retired.

J’ai connu tes parents pendant longtemps.

I knew your parents for a long time.

J'ai attendu Edouard pendant une heure. Finalement, il est arrivé.

I waited for Edouard for an hour. Finally he arrived.

Dialogue section for the page explaining the difference between qui and que in French

When an event starts in the past  and continues in the present, use depuis as well as the present tense. For example:

Je travaille ici depuis 2004.

I have worked here since 2004.

J’ai cette voiture depuis octobre.

I have had this car since October.

 

Je connais tes parents depuis 1978.

I have known your parents since 1978.

Je cuisine depuis ce matin.

I have been cooking since this morning.

Dialogue section for the page explaining the difference between qui and que in French

Other alternative expressions:

Cela fait 10 ans que je connais ta mère

Je connais ta mère depuis 10 ans

Ça fait 15 minutes que je t’attends

Je t’attends depuis 15 minutes