Perfect continuous tenses in French ('I have been....'), confusion!

Moderator: JackFrost

Neilkenlang_
Posts: 2
Joined: 2018-09-09, 11:28
Real Name: Neil

Perfect continuous tenses in French ('I have been....'), confusion!

Postby Neilkenlang_ » 2018-09-09, 11:44

I've been learning French for a while and I have some questions regarding the perfect continuous tenses and whether they exist in French or not. In English 'the perfect progressive tense' is the tense with 'have been', for example 'I have been practicing my French today', or 'I have been very busy', etc. According to some sources, the perfect continuous tense does not exist in French, whereas other sources say you can use the word 'été' for 'been'. So which is correct? I want to know whether it's possible in French to use 'J'ai été...' for 'I have been...'.

Here are some sentences using the perfect continuous tense - can you tell me whether I have them correct in French?

1) 'I have been practicing my French today' - 'J'ai été praticqué mon français aujourd'hui', or do I just use the perfect or imperfect tense, e.g. 'Je praticqais mon français aujourd'hui'/j'ai praticqué mon français aujourd'hui'?

2) 'I have been here (in Scotland') for 3 years' - Is it correct to say 'Je suis ici en Ecosse pour/depuis 3 années', or is it possible to say 'J'ai été ici en Ecosse pour/depuis 3 années' aussi?

3) 'I have been doing it for 3 years' - 'Je le fais depuis 3 années', or can I say 'J'ai été le fais pour/depuis 3 années'?

4) 'I have been very busy today' - 'J'ai été très occupé aujourd'hui' - is this correct, or better to use the present, perfect or imperfect tenses here?

5) For ''What have you been doing today?' - how would I say this in French, can I use été?

6) What about for the passive voice, for example 'the house has been sold'? In this case, can I use 'été', e.g. 'la maison a été vendue' (for 'the house has been sold', etc)?

Thanks for your help!

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 22640
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Perfect continuous tenses in French ('I have been....'), confusion!

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-09-10, 5:32

Tense, aspect, and mood is tricky in French, so I'm going to just attempt to guess the answers to the specific examples before people who either know more than me or are more eloquent (or both) tell us the real answers. :P
Neilkenlang_ wrote:1) 'I have been practicing my French today' - 'J'ai été praticqué mon français aujourd'hui', or do I just use the perfect or imperfect tense, e.g. 'Je praticqais mon français aujourd'hui'/j'ai praticqué mon français aujourd'hui'?

I think this would be passé composé, which I guess is what you're calling the perfect tense: J'ai pratiqué mon français...
2) 'I have been here (in Scotland') for 3 years' - Is it correct to say 'Je suis ici en Ecosse pour/depuis 3 années'

I believe so.
or is it possible to say 'J'ai été ici en Ecosse pour/depuis 3 années' aussi?

I don't think so.
3) 'I have been doing it for 3 years' - 'Je le fais depuis 3 années', or can I say 'J'ai été le fais pour/depuis 3 années'?

I think it might be "ça fait trois années que je le fais," though maybe "je le fais depuis..." is fine, too.
4) 'I have been very busy today' - 'J'ai été très occupé aujourd'hui' - is this correct, or better to use the present, perfect or imperfect tenses here?

I think this is correct.
5) For ''What have you been doing today?' - how would I say this in French, can I use été?

I think this would be "qu'est-ce que tu as fait aujourd'hui," same as 'what did you do...?'.
6) What about for the passive voice, for example 'the house has been sold'? In this case, can I use 'été', e.g. 'la maison a été vendue' (for 'the house has been sold', etc)?

Yes, I think this is correct as well.

I hope it helps! :)

Neilkenlang_
Posts: 2
Joined: 2018-09-09, 11:28
Real Name: Neil

Re: Perfect continuous tenses in French ('I have been....'), confusion!

Postby Neilkenlang_ » 2018-09-11, 10:43

Merci beaucoup pour votre aide :-)

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16226
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Perfect continuous tenses in French ('I have been....'), confusion!

Postby JackFrost » 2018-09-12, 0:00

First off, French doesn't express the nuance regarding actions that began in the past and are ongoing in the present like English would. That was lost with the disappearance of the passé simple. Generally, we just figure it out from context or use a different way to say it that English doesn't need to do. So, it's always tricky to convert the continuous + for X amount of time into French.

vijayjohn wrote:
Neilkenlang_ wrote:1) 'I have been practicing my French today' - 'J'ai été praticqué mon français aujourd'hui', or do I just use the perfect or imperfect tense, e.g. 'Je praticqais mon français aujourd'hui'/j'ai praticqué mon français aujourd'hui'?

I think this would be passé composé, which I guess is what you're calling the perfect tense: J'ai pratiqué mon français...

The constant use of "today" in example sentences is somewhat screwing me up, so I may adapt.

To say that you've been practicing your French all day today, it would be "je pratique mon français toute la journée aujourd'hui". That would be the present. To say you were practicing your French and you stopped doing so earlier today, then yeah, the imperfect "je pratiquais mon français tantôt aujourd'hui". To me, you need to add in more time-based words to make it clearer. :s

2) 'I have been here (in Scotland') for 3 years' - Is it correct to say 'Je suis ici en Ecosse pour/depuis 3 années'

I believe so.

I find it somewhat odd to say "je suis ici en Écosse depuis (not pour!!!) 3 ans". I'm more like to say "je vis en Écosse depuis 3 ans" instead. Again, the present tense as you're still in Scotland.

or is it possible to say 'J'ai été ici en Ecosse pour/depuis 3 années' aussi?

I don't think so.

Nope. Confirmed. If you want to put it in the past "j'ai vécu en Écosse pendant (this time, not depuis or pour) 3 ans". That I means "I lived in Scotland for 3 years".

Note: "habiter" is an option instead of "vivre". They both mean the same thing.

3) 'I have been doing it for 3 years' - 'Je le fais depuis 3 années', or can I say 'J'ai été le fais pour/depuis 3 années'?

I think it might be "ça fait trois années que je le fais," though maybe "je le fais depuis..." is fine, too.

Confirmed for "ça fait trois ans que je le fais" and "je le fais depuis...".

4) 'I have been very busy today' - 'J'ai été très occupé aujourd'hui' - is this correct, or better to use the present, perfect or imperfect tenses here?

I think this is correct.

It depends. If you're still busy, then the present. If you're no longer busy, then the past (I'd use the imperfect often as it deals with the state of being, but the passé composé is allowable too).

5) For ''What have you been doing today?' - how would I say this in French, can I use été?

I think this would be "qu'est-ce que tu as fait aujourd'hui," same as 'what did you do...?'.

"What have you been doing today?" -> "qu'est-ce que tu fais toute la journée/etc.?". Again, the "today" part confuses me as I feel it should be in the present as you're still not done with what you've been doing.
"Qu'est-ce que tu as fait aujourd'hui?" -> did stuff, no longer doing it, all done with today.

6) What about for the passive voice, for example 'the house has been sold'? In this case, can I use 'été', e.g. 'la maison a été vendue' (for 'the house has been sold', etc)?

Yes, I think this is correct as well.

Confirmed. Action done, so now in the past.

Again, not easy for me to sort out and explain. I think this is something that learners usually pick up with time by practicing, listening, and reading.
Neferuj paħujkij!

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 22640
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Perfect continuous tenses in French ('I have been....'), confusion!

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-09-13, 3:49

Merci, Jack ! :)


Return to “French (Français)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests