How to say “how long have you been doing something” in Italian

In Italian, to ask how long someone has been doing something or to say how long you’ve been doing something, you should follow this pattern:

QuestionAnswer
Da quanto tempo* + present tensePresent tense + da
(How long + present tense)(Present tense + since)

*”Da quanto tempo” translates to “since when,” “how long,” or “for how long.”

Examples:

QuestionAnswers
🇺🇸 How long have you been studying Italian?🇺🇸 I’ve been studying Italian for 2 years.
🇮🇹 Da quanto tempo studi italiano?🇮🇹 Studio italiano da 2 anni.
🇺🇸 How long have you been living in Italy?🇺🇸 I’ve been living in Italy since 2020.
🇮🇹 Da quanto tempo abiti in Italia?🇮🇹 Abito in Italia dal 2015.

More examples:

  • Da quanto tempo studi Italiano? – How long have you been studying Italian?
  • Da quanto tempo insegni italiano? – How long have you been teaching Italian?
  • Da quanto tempo lavori in questa azienda? – How long have you worked in this company?
  • Da quanto tempo abiti in Sicilia? – How long have you lived in Sicily?

To answer these types of questions in Italian, we use the presente indicativo + da  (meaning for) + a period of time. For example:

  • Studio italiano da tre anni – I’ve been learning Italian for three years 
  • Insegno italiano da 10 anni – I’ve been teaching italian for ten years 
  • Lavoro in questa azienda da tanti anni – I’ve been working at this company for many years
  • Abito in Italia da cinque anni – I’ve been living in Italy for five years.

English vs. Italian: 

Notice that in English, in contrast to Italian, the same question is asked and answered using  the present perfect or the present perfect continuous tense. This often leads to confusion and mistakes can arise when English speakers are led astray by the apparent similarities in form between the English present perfect and the Italian passato prossimo, and as a result try to use the passato prossimo to refer to an action or situation that began in the past and continues into the present (for which they would use the present perfect or the present perfect continuous in English). This is wrong. The presente indicativo is the correct form to use to refer to such actions/situations — NOT the passato prossimo. 

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Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I'm Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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