What is the difference between ‘since’ and ‘for’?

What is the difference between since and for?

 

In French, the word depuis can be used as a translation for both since and for. As a result, the difference between since and for is not always clear.  Consider the following sentences and their French translations:

 

I have been working since 2004. | Je travail depuis 2004.

I have been working for 5 years.  | Je travail depuis 5 ans.

 

In this post, we’ll do our best to explain the difference between since and for. We’ll provide some very clear examples of when to use each. Then, we’ll finish off with a quiz so that you can practice what you’ve learned!

 

How to use since

 

Since can be used in three ways:

 

1) as a preposition followed by a noun

 

I have been studying English since 2005.

I haven’t stopped working since Tuesday.

The sun has been shining since this morning.

 

2) as an adverb

 

I visited Japan in 2001 but haven’t been back since.

I gave up smoking 5 years ago and haven’t picked up a single cigarette since.

 

3) as a conjunction

 

Since you’re asking, I’m going to tell you.

Since he wanted to work on the project so badly, I assigned it to him.

I haven’t played tennis since I was in college.

 

 

How to use for

 

There are multiple uses of for. To get a full overview, feel free to click on this link.

 

In the context of time, for is used to signal a duration of time.

 

Examples:

 

I have been running for an hour.

I have been eating at that restaurant for 10 years.

I’ve been waiting for a lifetime.

She has been sick for 2 weeks.

She has been studying for the last month.

 

Illustration: The difference between since and for

 

Since is used when we want to refer to a specific point of time in the past.

 

Example:

 

I haven’t loved pizza since only yesterday. I haven’t loved pizza since only last year.

I have loved pizza since college!

And, I still love pizza today.

 

The difference between since and for 1

 

For, on the other hand, refers to a time period, or the space of time between one point in the past and now.

 

Example:

 

I was in college 20 years ago.

Now – 20 years = a time period of 20 years.

I have loved pizza for (a time period) of 20 years.

 

The difference between since and for 2

 


 

Now that the difference between since and for is clear, let’s practice!

Please select either since or for to complete the sentences.

 

She's been working here __________ February.
I've been telling you that __________ you started.
We have been together __________ 5 years.
She has been absent __________ Monday.
They've been our customers __________ 10 years.
He hasn't been the same __________ the wedding.
I've been wondering about that __________ years.
__________ how long has the house been on the market?
__________ when have you ever been afraid of spiders?
Ever __________ I found out about the robbery, I haven't been able to sleep.
Could you come by my office __________ a minute, please?
He's been at the store __________ ages!
I've been trying to land that job __________ 6 months.
Her English has improved dramatically __________ she started taking lessons with Jan.
Have you lived here __________ childhood?
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