I understand: "Ich wohne seit zehn Jahren hier." is correct (seit + present tense). Is there a reason this construction isn't used with "mein ganzes Leben"?

"Ich habe mein ganzes Leben hier gewohnt."

Not "Ich wohne mein ganzes Leben hier." Are there other instances where "have been doing" (past action continuing into present) doesn't use seit + present?

  • To clarify: Seit + present examples:
    – klauzon
    Apr 22, 2019 at 15:17
  • To clarify:the examples: Ich wohne seit 10 Jahren hier. Ich warte seit einer Stunde.- translate as "have been doing" in English." ("I've been living here for 10 years.' 'I've been waiting here for an hour.") However, "I've been living here my whole life' follows the same pattern in Englisch, but German doesn't use seit. There's no distinction in English (past into present) - I'm wondering what tthe distinction is in German. I'm also wondering if there are other examples like this.
    – klauzon
    Apr 22, 2019 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


You could also say "Ich wohne (schon) mein ganzes Leben hier". The difference would be if this is to change: "Ich habe mein ganzes Leben hier gewohnt, aber jetzt ziehe ich um" where the present tense implies that this is not changing.

As to the "ganz": it means "whole", as in "I've been living here for my whole life". It's unrelated to the tense.

Other constructions would be:

  • "Das haben wir schon seit Jahren so gemacht" --- We've been doing this for years.

  • "Seit sie starb ging er jeden Tag auf den Friedhof" --- Since she died he went to the graveyard every day. Would be used if you told a story.

  • 1
    One thing to notice: German uses "seit" = "since" for both kinds of time spec: "I have been doing this for many years" and "I have been doing this since 1981". Apr 22, 2019 at 21:10

"Seit" is followed by a single point of time in the past. The other sentence uses Vergangenheit and is a complete different construction and meaning. It is not that the one sentence is kind of a transformation of the other.

So, to summarise, your question does not really make sense.

  • Not always a single point in the past... "seit Tagen", "seit er geübt hat".
    – Robert
    Apr 22, 2019 at 13:35
  • @Robert Sure, but in the OP's case it is. But also "seit Tagen" and other usages cannot be transformed in the suggested way. Apr 22, 2019 at 13:42

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