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Quand, Lorsque, Lors de, Pendant

Confusing French pairs

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What's the difference between the conjunctions quand and lorsque, the similar-looking expressions lorsque and lors de, and the temporal terms lors de and pendant? That's what this lesson is all about.

Quand vs Lorsque

The conjunctions quand and lorsque both mean "when." They are interchangeable when they indicate a simple correlation in time, although lorsque is a bit more formal. However, quand and lorsque each have unique, non-interchangeable meanings as well:

Quand

1) temporal correlation (interchangeable with lorsque)

   Je marchais quand tu m'as téléphoné.
   I was walking when you called me.

   Quand je t'ai vu, j'avais peur.
   When I saw you, I was afraid.

   Je te verrai demain quand j'arriverai.*
   I will see you tomorrow when I arrive.

2) repeated correlation (meaning chaque fois que)

   Quand il est là, elle ne parle pas.
   When(ever) he is there, she doesn't speak.

   Quand il sera là, elle ne parlera pas.*
   When(ever) he is there, she won't speak.

3) interrogative adverb

   Quand vas-tu arriver ?
   When are you going to arrive?

   Je ne sais pas quand il reviendra.
   I don't know when he will return.


Lorsque

1) temporal correlation (interchangeable with quand)

   Je marchais lorsque tu m'as téléphoné.
   I was walking when you called me.

   Lorsque je t'ai vu, j'avais peur.
   When I saw you, I was afraid.

   Je te verrai demain lorsque j'arriverai.*
   I will see you tomorrow when I arrive.

2) simultaneous opposition (meaning alors que or tandis que)

   J'ai crié lorsqu'il a fallu courir.
   I screamed when/whereas I should have run.

   Je crierai lorsqu'il faudra courir.*
   I'll scream, when/whereas I should run.

*Note: When the action that follows lorsque or quand has not yet occurred, the French verb that follows must be in the future, whereas in English the present tense is used.
 

Lorsque vs Lors de

Lorsque and lors de may look similar, but that's all they have in common. Lors de is used to provide the background for another action; it means "at the time of" or "during."

   Lors de son anniversaire, elle était contente.
   At the time of her birthday, she was happy.

   Je suis arrivé lors du mariage.
   I arrived during the wedding.
 

Lors de vs Pendant

Be careful not to confuse lors de with the preposition pendant. They can both be translated by "during," but lors de refers to a single moment in time, while pendant indicates the duration of time.

   Il était content lors de son séjour. Il était content pendant son séjour.
   He was happy (at some point) during his stay. He was happy during his (entire) stay.
   
   Il était content lors de son anniversaire. Il était content pendant son anniversaire.
   He was happy (for a moment) on his birthday. He was happy during his (entire) birthday.
   
   Il a travaillé lors des 3 dernières années. Il a travaillé pendant les 3 dernières années.
   He worked (at some point) during the last 3 years. He has worked (non-stop) for the last 3 years.
   
 Test on quand, lorsque, lors de, pendant
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