- "Il y a" is equivalent of the English word ago. It's used to express an event that happened in a specific amount of time in the past:
- Nous nous sommes mariés il y a trois ans.
- Il a téléphoné il y a 10 minutes.
- "Dans" is used to express an event that will happen in a specific amount of time in the future. Think of it as the opposite of "il y a":
- Nous partirons au Canada dans trois ans.
- Je suis prêt dans 10 minutes.
Le temps passe vite
A married couple talk about the time that flies.
"Il y a"
We use "il y a" to talk about a specific moment in the past. This moment happened some amount of time ago. It is always followed by duration.
The verb used with "il y a" is mostly in the past tense. In contrary, to talk about the future action, you can use the preposition "dans".
We use "dans" to talk about a specific moment in the future. This moment will happen in some amount of time. As for "il y a", "dans" is also followed by duration.
The verb after "dans" is generally in the present or future tense.
In the restaurant, Alain and Marine talk about their plans for the future with friends: