He has lived here for 20 years.
==> Er hat seit 20 Jahren hier gelebt.
Can we also say it like:
==> Er hat 20 Jahre hier gelebt.
? ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_adverbial_phrases I found Accusative nouns with adverbial meaning: Das Kind malte die ganze Zeit Bilder ("The child was painting pictures all the time". Can I apply this to 20 Jahre here? )

2 Answers 2


To me there's a difference. I would use present tense in your first example in German and read the second one as a finished action in the past:

  • He has lived here for 20 years (and still does). → Er lebt seit 20 Jahren hier.
  • He lived here for 20 years (and does no more). → Er hat 20 Jahre lang hier gelebt. / Er lebte 20 Jahre lang hier.
  • 1
    I see. You mean the haben gelebt and seit doesn't mix. Right?
    – Chan Kim
    Nov 14, 2018 at 9:02
  • Right, I'd definitely prefer present tense for this kind of ongoing action. (Haben gelebt would work fine with seit 2010, though, but I'd understand that in the second sense as well, i.e. as finished.)
    – DonHolgo
    Nov 14, 2018 at 10:26
  • Is there a distinction between He has lived here for 20 years and He has been living here for 20 years? I would use the second one instinctively. In my understanding, in the first sentence he does not live here anymore.
    – kscherrer
    Nov 14, 2018 at 10:26
  • I think He has lived here for 20 years can mean both he still lives here and he doesn't live here any more. But if we say He has had lived here for 20 years, it definately means he no longer lives here. I know most Americans say in this situtation(when he still lives), He has been living here for 20 years. It's their habit.
    – Chan Kim
    Nov 14, 2018 at 13:26
  • @DonHolgo Yes, thanks for clarifying it to me. I know how to use since, looks like seitis similar to since.
    – Chan Kim
    Nov 14, 2018 at 13:27

You can really say both and yes I think the link you provide applies.

I would recommend using the second sentence however. The first sentence somehow seems clumsy and redoubling (implicitly) the time and I think I've heard the first sentence also in regional dialects (not sure).

Best, SG

  • No problem. Maybe you should also accept the answer in StackExchange.
    – stephanmg
    Nov 14, 2018 at 14:53
  • I chose your answer first, but later found DonHolgo's answer gave me more insight as to the use of seit 20 Jahren and 20 Jahre relating to the use of present form and present perfect form. Your answer is almost as good. But, sorry for the change..
    – Chan Kim
    Nov 15, 2018 at 4:50
  • 1
    Chan Kim: Whatever is better for you. Best wishes, SG
    – stephanmg
    Nov 24, 2018 at 2:39

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