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.
    – MC68020
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 21:00
  • What do you think? books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – LPH
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 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
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 22:46
  • That was fast Greg. You declared my idea wrong, then gave a completely good answer in your example, so I dont understand your objection. Your example means “I have been listening to the audio since this morning.” Her question was “all day.” Please help me. How would you use the present + depuis form to modify your sentence to “all day” or “all day long,” which was her question? Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 10:36

3 Answers 3


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.

  • I've been listening to the audio you sent all day : J'ai écouté l'audio que tu m'as envoyé toute la journée. Sorry, that is incorrect. The present prefect is always the simple present: J'écoute x depuis que etc. It can't ever be the passé composé.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 15:05

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.


I liked your analysis of what you knew it was not. You know your tenses and conjugations. However, as we often do in assuming things too quickly, your very first assumption was wrong. Since you have been doing it and STILL ARE doing it, it IS the present tense. The form is present tense + depuis. « J’écoute l’audio que tu m’as envoyé depuis toute la journée. » Voila

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    J'écoute l'audio depuis toute la journée is wrong, in particular depuis toute la journée. A correct wording using the présent tense in French and "depuis" would be eg J'écoute l'audio depuis ce matin.
    – Greg
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 11:58
  • Re your comment:. in French, présent + depuis is not the same as present perfect + for/since, etc. The "depuis" must point to a specific point in time where you started the activity. Ex: J'ai mon permis depuis 2010. OR to the span of time since the start of this activity. Ex: je travaille ici depuis 5 ans. Now, (toute) la journée (with the la) in French means "during the whole day". It cannot be used a reference to a point in time where you started an ongoing activity.
    – Greg
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 10:10
  • (cont.) You can use it if the if the activity is over, but in the past (hence the passé composé), and without depuis*/ Ex: *j'ai écouté l'audio toute la journée. If you want to express it in the present, and insist you have been doing it all day long, you need to point to the moment where it started, there is no way to express it with la journée.
    – Greg
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 10:14

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