I want to say the following in French: I have been listening to the audio you sent all day.

I'm having difficulty forming the French equivalent and my difficulty lies in me not knowing what tense I have been listening is in.

I know it isn't the present tense. I want to to say it isn't the passé composé because the possible translation of j'ai écouté are: a) I listened. b) I have listened. c) I did listen.

I want to say it isn't the imperfect tense because the possible translations of J'écoutais... are: a) I was listening... b) I used to listen...

I want to say it isn't the pluperfect tense because the possible translation of J'avais écouté is: a) I had listened.

I know it is one of these 3 tenses but which one is it:

I want to say a possible correct translation of my sentence is J'ai été écouter l'audio que tu m'as envoyé tout la journée. but I'm unsure if this is correct. If it is, please let me know.

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    What are you telling ? An isolated fact of the present day ? A whole story in which this fact occurs ? Is this sentence announcing whatever event happening suddenly after ? During the listening ? We would need more information about that. – aCOSwt Dec 12 '18 at 21:00
  • What do you think? books.google.com/ngrams/… – LPH Dec 12 '18 at 21:54
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    @LPH If you seriously think CubbyKushy should have written "my difficulty lies in my not knowing what tense..." , I'm afraid that you have serious issues understanding English... – jlliagre Dec 12 '18 at 22:46

Continuous tenses don't have an exact equivalent in French. It may depend on the context, but most of the times we use just use the corresponding non-continuous tense.

I've been listening to the audio you sent all day : J'ai écouté l'audio que tu m'as envoyé toute la journée

I've been practicing : Je me suis entraîné

It's not that simple though, continuous tenses will be translated in different ways depending on the situation and what you want to put the focus on.

For example, you can also use "j'ai passé [time period] à [verb]", or "ça fait [time period] que [verb]".

I've been working all day : J'ai passé la journée à travailler

I've been waiting for you for 2 hours! : Ça fait deux heures que je t'attends !

They convey different ideas, the first one is more focused on how you spent your time, and the second one on how long something was.

Also, "j'ai passé [time period] à [verb]" refers to an action that is already completed or that has just finished, whereas "ça fait" has to be about something that has just finished (like waiting for your friend) or something still ongoing :

J'ai passé 20 minutes à chercher mes clés : the action is over, so the speaker has found their keys.

Ça fait 20 minutes que je cherche mes clés ! : the action is not over, the speaker is still looking for their keys.


As a native French speaker, I would say:

J'ai écouté toute la journée l'audio que tu m'as envoyé

Thus I would use the passé composé tense.

If you would say j'ai écouté l'audio, then it would means, you listened it once. With the additional toute la journée, it means that you have been listening to it all day.

By the way, it sounds strange to talk about audio. I would use musique or an other word which describe which kind of audio you have been listening to.

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