Difference between "vor" and "seit"

  • I struggle to understand how to use these two words correctly. I cannot grasp their difference. In these next two sentences I can't see any.

    Ich habe vor einem Monat in Graz gewohnt

    and

    Ich habe seit einem Monat in Graz gewohnt

    I honestly don't see how those could possibly be the same. What's your mother tongue? And what does the dictionary say?

    Just saw that you're from Italy... "vor" - "anteriore a, fa"; "seit" - "da, a partire da"

    The sentences I used as examples are wrong. At least the second one, as I understood, is not correct, because I cannot use Perfekt with "seit", it does not fit properly. The fact that I was trying to understand the difference between vor and seit having those "wrong" examples in mind confused me a lot. I think it is not so impossible to get it wrong then..

    "Ich musste 30€ Strafe zahlen, weil ich mich nicht polizeilich gemeldet hatte. Ich habe seit einem Monat in Graz gewohnt."

  • Tauchsieder

    Tauchsieder Correct answer

    6 years ago

    Vor is used when a spot in time is addressed, but described by an elapsed time span. Seit is used for unfinished time spans, meaning the action is still in progress. It's confusing because it looks similar to the construct "for/since" in English.

    Ich habe vor einem Monat in Graz gewohnt.

    translates to: I lived in Graz a month ago.

    Ich habe seit einem Monat in Graz gewohnt.

    sounds odd to me, because habe gewohnt indicates past tense, while seit indicates a present tense. Depending on the meaning I would either say:

    Ich habe einen Monat in Graz gewohnt. (I lived for a month in Graz.)

    or

    Ich lebe seit einem Monat in Graz. (I have been living in Graz for a month.)

    Could also be "hatte seit * in * gewohnt" and "wohnte seit * in"...(I tried to include the Google result but the link wouldn't work, just copy the phrases from this comment if you're interested). "Seit" does not automatically imply the present. The problem is that "habe" marks it as indeed the present but then it collides with the perfective idea of the past participle.

    There's nothing odd with the past tense - It just means I had been living there for one month at some point in the past.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM