for and since header


For have since different meanings, but for some reason, when we are telling a story about something that happened to us (most of the time in the simple past) we may end up confusing those expressions.  

What happens if we confuse them? Well, let’s imagine that we are looking for a job where our English skills are essential, or we are simply trying to communicate with someone, if we confuse these expressions, then we will not give others a good impression about ourselves. But, that’s a thing of the past, because, from this moment, you are going to learn how to use for and since, without messing them up. Welcome to this post! 


Use “for” when…

You are going to refer to a quantity of time or space. If you need to talk about the duration of an action that you did in the past, an action that you are carrying out in the present, or one that you will do in the future, then this preposition fits perfectly in all of those scenarios.

But, don’t forget that “for” is used to refer to the duration of an action or a period.

Therefore, as we are talking about periods, the information cannot bet, nor should be exact.

Let’s look at some examples of the three verbal times (past-present-future)

I traveled for a month last year. (Simple past).

I am walking to Central Park. (Present continuous).

I will work on this project for 2 years. (Future tense).

When should we use “since”?

“Since” is used when we want to mark the exact moment when something started, like an action for instance. 

We also use since, to refer to a singular and specific event that took part in the past and is in some way still being carried out in the present.


I have lived here since 1995.

I have danced since August 1st, 1998.

Then why do we sometimes confuse it with “for”?  

That’s because “since” marks the start of an action or a stage in the past that keeps affecting the present, and that is where the confusion may lie.

Because we are still in a period (maybe even in the present).

But, if we want to use the preposition “since”, we have to make an emphasis on the moment or circumstance in which this period or action started, because if we focus on the process or its duration, then we need to use “for”.

You will not make that mistake again and if you haven’t done it, then good job.

Be careful with not confusing them with sentences in the past that need to use the expression “ago”, which refers to an event that happened in the past and ended in that time, meaning that it no longer continues in the present. This is another grammar structure that we will talk about in another post.

Rules for the use of for and since:

  • To use “since” you must be specific. You have to use the exact moment, date, month and the greatest number of details to justify the use of this preposition. 
  • “For” has its diverse uses, but it should not be used to talk about specific information, but rather focused on periods, generic names of spaces, or even purposes/objectives, but in general.
  • “Since” is often used to talk about sentences in the past or present perfect, but you can also use it in present perfect continuous.
  • As we said before “for” can be used in the past, present, and future. It is far more common to use “for” than “since” due to its versatility.
  • If you are going to indicate a period in a generic manner, “for” is the preposition that you should use, because if you do not mark a precise start of the action, then the focus will be on the process or the period.

These are some exercises that you can use to practice for and since:

  • I have been a dance teacher __________ 2000.
  • I have been walking ______five hours the last weekend.
  • I have been talking _____ 10 p.m.
  • Carol will live in London ______ 6 months.
  • I will love blues _____ ever.
  • I have been catholic _____  September 2008.
  • I was waiting _____ 5 minutes.
  • Reptiles exist ____ the beginning of the world.
  • The last time I eat pizza _____ a month.
  • I have been here _____ 10 years.
  • _____ 2009 Barcelona Fc has been the best soccer club in the world.
  • _____ 10 years Marvel has been surprising us.

This is all for now. We hope that you can practice and successfully understand the difference between the prepositions for y since.

We are available if you need some help or any guidance. By the way, we want to invite you to subscribe to our newsletter, so you can receive weekly updates on different grammar and vocabulary structures that will help you to improve your learning skills. Have a nice day!

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