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For and Since in English

For and since are two English prepositions that we can use to talk about time in English. They are similar, but we use them a little differently (Be careful! For and since have other meanings as well).


Which verb tenses do we use with for and since

We can use these words with many different verb tenses, especially these ones:

Many learners try to use for and since with the simple present, but this is usually an error:

I am living in Medellin since 2011

I study English for 3 hours

There are some exceptions, but generally you want to use the present perfect or present perfect continuous in to describe an action or situation that started in the past and is still true:

I have lived in Medellin since 2011

I have been studying English for 3 hours


The Difference Between For and Since

Here is the important difference between for and since: We use for with an amount of time, but we use since with a point in time.


Using For

We use for to express an amount of time (we could also call this a period or time or a duration). Here are some examples of for with amounts of time:

for two years

for 3 hours

for a week

for a long time

for a little while

for centuries

for ages

for as long as I can remember


Using Since

We use since with a point in time, the time when an action or situation began.

since last week

since Monday

since December 11

since September

since 1984

since Thanksgiving

since last fall

since I was born


Ago

Ago is a useful word for changing most durations into points in time. That is, two years is a duration and we use it with for. But if we add ago, two years ago is a point in time, and we can say since two years ago. Here are some examples with ago:

since five years ago

since 3 hours ago

since a week ago

Note that using since with ago is a little informal, and better for speaking than formal writing.

Chart For and Since with Verbs in English

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Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous is an important verb form for talking about recent events and their durations. Read about the rules for using the present perfect continuous tense, how we form it, and tons of example sentences!

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Idioms About Winter

We have to make decisions every day, but sometimes it’s so hard to just make up your mind! If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then these idioms might help your thought process! (Or at least help you procrastinate making a difficult decision😂)

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Study Off the Beaten Track in the US

When considering where to study abroad in the US, the first places that come to most international student’s minds are New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and maybe Chicago, but there is so much more to America! Take a look at these brief descriptions of weird and wacky American cities and see if any of them might be your cup of tea.

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Future Continuous Tense

The future continuous is a rare but challenging verb form in English. It is used to describe actions that will be in progress at a specific point in the future. Read about the rules for using the future continuous tense and how we form it, with charts and over 25 example sentences!

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Idioms About Making Decisions

We have to make decisions every day, but sometimes it’s so hard to just make up your mind! If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then these idioms might help your thought process! (Or at least help you procrastinate making a difficult decision😂)

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English Idioms about Competition

They say some friendly competition never hurt anyone. In fact, sometimes, people even thrive on a little competition! If you’re one of these people, these idioms about competition might come in handy…

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Black and White Idioms

Today we bring you a variety of English idioms featuring black and white images to help you visualize the meanings, along with sample sentences and definitions!

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Fall Idioms

The time has come for Americans to kiss summer goodbye and welcome fall (also known as autumn). Here are some idioms about the fall season!

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Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often an action occurs. Read the blog post to learn the most common adverbs of frequency and to learn the rules for using them, with lots of examples!

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Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous is an important verb form for talking about recent events and their durations. Read about the rules for using the present perfect continuous tense, how we form it, and tons of example sentences!

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