Usage of since and for in English


Since expresses duration up to the present.

When we use since, we are saying that something began in the past and is unfinished:

Ann:How long have you lived in your current apartment?

Bob: I have lived here since 2017.

Ann: Have you seen her since summer?

Bob: No, I haven't seen her since summer because she moved away.

I have lived in this house since 2007.

(= 'I moved here in 2007 and I still live here.')

Ann: How long have you been married?

Bob: We’ve been married since last July.

(= 'We got married last July and we’re still married.')

Ann: How long have you known him?

Bob:I've known him since we were at school.

(= 'I knew him at school and I still know him.')

Ann: Have you seen your friends since the lock down started?

Bob: I have not seen my friends since the lock down started.

I've known my neighbor since the day we moved in.

"I have lived here since 2009." - 2009 is the starting point.

"They've all been in a meeting since 11am." - 11am is the starting point.

"She's been sleeping since last night." - Last night is the starting point.

We use the present perfect simple or present perfect continuous with since:

I have had this car since last April. (present perfect simple)

I have had this laptop since last January. (present perfect simple)

Mary has been working here since 2013. (present perfect continuous)

I have been working here since the start of the year. (present perfect continuous)

We can use the past perfect tense with since to express duration from a point in the past:

It was 1974, and he had been living in London since 1964.

It was 2019, and I had been studying in Lviv since 2018.

Since vs. for

Since and for both express duration up to a point in the present, but we use them differently.

We use since + the starting point of the activity:

  • We have lived in this house since we got married.

  • I have completed one task since this morning.

  • I have learned something new nearly everyday since I started working with my new team.

  • I've been waiting here since 9 o'clock.

  • I haven't washed my car since last Friday.

  • I've had a headache since last night.

  • We have been here since six o'clock.

  • It has been raining since Monday.

  • I haven't eaten since yesterday.

  • I've loved you ever since I met you.

We use for + a time period:

  • Ann: How long have you lived here?

  • Bob:I have lived here for three years. - Three years is the duration/length of time.

  • Ann: How long was your flight delayed?

  • Bob: "Our flight was delayed for two hours." - Two hours is the duration/length of time.

  • Ann:How long have you been living here?

  • Bob:"We've been living here for a long time." - A long time is the duration/length of time.

  • We have lived in this house for thirty years.

  • I've been waiting here for three hours.

  • I haven't spoken with her for five years.

  • I have lived in New York for all of my life!

  • I have lived here for eight years.

  • The phone rang for a few minutes.

  • I have been working for ten hours.

  • The cat has slept for ten hours.

  • I will be in Paris for two weeks.

  • I study English for an hour a day.

Since vs. from

We use since and from to express duration. Both tell us the starting point of an activity.

Since expresses duration of an unfinished action, up to a point in the present:

I've been here since 8 o'clock this morning so I'm going home now.

I've been here from 8 o'clock this morning.

We use from in other cases:

I will be here from 8 o'clock tomorrow.

I will be here since 8 o'clock tomorrow.

The shop is open from 9 a.m on Saturdays.

The shop is open since 9 a.m on Saturdays.

We say from . . . to or from . . . till / until:

He works from 8 to 5 o'clock.

It will cost from 100euro to 200euro depending on which options you want.

This tour will cost from X to Y, depending on the number of places you want to visit.

From the 1920s until his death, Picasso lived in France.