Unit 1.2

For and Since with the Present Perfect


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Introduction

Prepositions are small words that are related to another element in the sentence. They are essential because they provide additional details about the sentence by locating events, people, and objects in a place and time.

We use the prepositions for and since to locate an event in a time frame and add information about its duration.

Form

The prepositions for and since have the same general purpose but have a different connotation. With them we always use the present perfect of the verb, when referring to the present.

The structures are:
… + for + period of time + …
… + since + starting point + …

Example

  • I have studied Dutch for 4 years.
  • I‘ve known her for ten years.
  • She has attended the Spanish course for three months.
  • I have waited for this moment for ages. 
  • I have studied Dutch since 2011.
  • I‘ve known her since 2006.
  • She has attended the Spanish course since January.
  • We haven’t eaten since yesterday.

Use

We usually use for to express the period of time in which an event took place (2 years, 6 weeks, 10 days…). The event expressed with for is still effective in the present time of the conversation.

We usually use since to express the exact starting point of an event (last year, 1996, I arrived…).

Summary

For and since help to locate an event in a time frame and add information about its length. They are always used with the present perfect, when referring to the present.

  • For is used to express the length of a period that is still going on. For is placed before periods of time.
  • Since is used to express the exact present or past starting point of an event. Since is placed before starting points.

For example:
— “I‘ve been a fireman for 16 years.” = We use for because we are expressing the length of the action.
— “I‘ve been a fireman since 2000.” = We use since because we are expressing the starting point of the action.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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