German Lessons


For a Long Time — Until Now

It is sometimes easy to be misled by German adverbs, which may not be quite what they appear at first glance. Take the adverb bislang: if you break it into its constituent parts bis ("until") and lang ("long"), you might conclude it means "for a long time"—but you would unfortunately be wrong. 


There are, however, a number of other expressions in German that mean "for a long time":


seit langem (or seit Langem, both are correct):


Dieses Tier wollte er schon seit langem filmen.
He has wanted to film this creature for a long time.
Caption 47, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen


lange Zeit:


Im Jahr 1953 gab es in der DDR einen Aufstand, an den lange Zeit in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ein Feiertag erinnerte.    
There was an uprising in the GDR in 1953, which a holiday has memorialized for a long time in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Captions 22-23, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest


seit langer Zeit:


Comedy geht mir seit langer Zeit aufn Keks.    
Comedy has been getting on my nerves for a long time.
Caption 2, Filmtrailer: Hexe Lilli


or simply lange


Und wir haben uns mit Siegfried lange unterhalten dürfen.    
And we were able to speak with Siegfried for a long time
Caption 29, Ehrlich Brothers: Show-Magier


But back to bislang: it can be variously translated as "up till now," "until now," or "so far," depending upon the context: 


Die vierzehnjährige Floh hat bislang noch keine eigenen Kinder bekommen.
Up till now, the fourteen year old Floh still has never had any children of her own.
Caption 13, Unter fremden Fittichen: Uhu-Mama zieht Hühnerküken auf


Überraschungssieger und damit neuer deutscher Meister ist der bislang in der Szene unbekannte Alexander Lehmann aus Kiel.
Surprise winner, and therefore the new German champion, is Alexander Lehmann from Kiel, who was unknown in the scene until now.
Captions 5-6, Die Insel Fehmarn: Speedsurfen auf Fehmarn


Bislang konnte das die Ausbreitung der Läden aber nicht stoppen.
So far, however, this hasn't stopped the spread of the shops.
Caption 25, Perlentee: In allen Mündern


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to search for other examples of how the adverb bislang and expressions meaning "for a long time" are used in a real-world context.

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