German Grammar Explained /

Temporal prepositions.

"How long have you been learning German?", "When did you move to your new house?", "How long have you been working for this company?". To answer these type of questions in German, all you need to know are three prepositions!
When will something begin?
Ab Februar lerne ich Chinesisch.
From/Starting in February, I'll learn Chinese.
When will something end?
Bis Februar lerne ich Chinesisch.
I’m going to learn Chinese until February.
When something began?
Seit Februar lerne ich Chinesisch.
I’ve been learning Chinese since February.
German doesn't distinguish between a period or a specific point in time in the past:
Specific point in time:
Since August 1, since 2005, since yesterdaySeit dem 1. August, seit 2005, seit gestern Period of time: For five years, for two months, for five weeks. Seit fünf Jahren, seit zwei Monaten, seit fünf Wochen.
This leads to a very common mistake among English speakers:
I have been living in Germany for five years. Ich habe für 5 Jahren in Deutschland gelebt.
→ Ich wohne seit 5 Jahren in Deutschland. Note that German only uses the present tense in all these cases.
Prepositions of time at a glance:
starting in.../from...