May 21, 2023, Comment off

The Correct Use of “Since” and “For”


Understanding language nuances is key for successful communication. Two words, “since” and “for“, often confuse language learners. “Since” refers to a point in time, while “for” represents a span of time. For example, “I have been studying English for a year” means the person has studied continuously for a year. On the other hand, “I have been studying English since last year” implies that the person started studying at some point during last year and is still doing it.

Unclear communication can lead to everyday conversations or written communication becoming a mess. It is important to choose words according to meaning and context to avoid misinterpretation. This will lead to clear and effective communication.

Meaning and usage of “since”

The word “since” is a conjunction that connects two moments in time. It shows that one event started after the other, and has kept going until now. It’s usually used with the present perfect tense to describe actions or situations from the past that still happen now. For example: “I have been studying English since last year.” It’s important to specify when it began, and what it relates to.

“Since” can also come at the start of a sentence, to explain why something happened. Like: “Since I studied hard for my exams, I passed them all.”

It’s different from “for“, which doesn’t say when something began. It only mentions how long it lasted.

Examples of “since”

The word “since” is often seen in many contexts. It indicates the time when something began. For example, “since I arrived” means that the person started doing something after they came. When used with a time or date, it lets us know when the action began.

“Since” can also be used to express causation. For instance, saying, “I have been feeling unwell since I ate something,” means the eating caused the feeling.

When we use “since,” we usually follow it up with a present perfect tense verb. This helps us understand how long an action has been going on since it started.

Rather than repeatedly using ‘since,’ try using other words like “as,” “because,” or “considering that” for more precise writing.

Using “since” correctly is necessary for accurate communication. If not used properly, readers and listeners may be misled about the start of events.

Meaning and usage of “for”

Using “for” is common in English to express a duration of time. This preposition conveys how long something has happened or will happen. It also describes the reason for an action or situation.

Moreover, it can show the cause-and-effect connection between two events when followed by a noun phrase. It can differentiate two aspects of time: the starting point (since) and the length (for). When using ‘for,’ we focus on duration, not the start date.

Examples of “for”

The preposition “for” is used to express how long an action has been happening. It’s usually followed by a period of time, like “I have been studying for three hours” or “He will be working on this project for a month.”

It can also indicate purpose or reason. For example, “She went to uni for maths.” meaning she attended University to specialize in Mathematics.

It’s important to remember that “for” should be used for duration, and ‘since‘ should be used for starting points. Studies show that ‘since‘ is more precise, but both are correct and interchangeable depending on the context.

Differences between “for” and “since”

When discussing the differences between “since” and “for,” it’s key to remember they’re both used to show the length of an event or action. But they have different functions and can’t be swapped.

Used to point to a specific moment in the past when something started.Shows the duration of something that began in the past and still continues.
Since 2010, I have been practicing yoga.I have been practicing yoga for over ten years.

Using them incorrectly can be confusing. Both can be used with different tenses.

Note: “Since” is used with a particular ending, while “for” is used to indicate length without saying when it ends.

TimeframeRefers to a period of time from past to present/futureRefers to a point in time when an event happened, up to present/future
UsageUsed for a duration of time (e.g., for five years)Used with a specific point in time (e.g., since January 1st)

Remember, getting the use of time words right is important for clear communication and better writing. Don’t risk missing out because of grammar mistakes. Brush up on your language arts and use words correctly.

Common mistakes while using “since” and “for”

Since and for are two common English conjunctions often misused, leading to grammatical errors. Here are some typical goofs:

  • Using ‘since‘ with no beginning point in time
  • Employing ‘for‘ instead of ‘since‘ when there is a start time
  • Choosing ‘since‘ incorrectly to mean “because”
  • Mixing up the present perfect continuous tense with since and for

It’s vital to comprehend the context before using these conjunctions to ensure the meaning is accurately expressed.

Remember, ‘since‘ can be both a conjunction and a preposition, and ‘for‘ is only a conjunction. Knowing the correct usage of these words will help ward off errors and misunderstandings.

Cambridge University Press did a survey and found that many native speakers still struggle with “since” and “for.”

Tips for using “since” and “for” correctly

When using “since” and “for,” accuracy is key. Here are a few tips:

  • Use “since” for a specific point in the past. Use “for” when talking about a period of time.
  • If you use “since,” it must follow a present perfect or past perfect verb. This means something started in the past and continues right now.
  • “For” requires a length of time after it. For example, “I’ve been exercising for two hours.”

It’s important to remember that both words are mainly used for time expressions.

Writing an article like this can be stressful. But if you get these nuances right, it will help your language and accuracy. Use this tip every time you write!


‘Since’ and ‘for’ are key words for understanding the length of an action or event.

‘Since’ points to the start of it, and ‘for’ indicates the duration. It is important to know the difference and use them accurately in professional writing.

‘Since’ can only refer to a particular moment, whereas ‘for’ can be used with definite and indefinite periods. Misusing these words leads to confusion and makes it difficult for readers to comprehend.

Want to learn more about English Grammar? Check our Quick Start Grammar Guide for everything you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between “since” and “for”?

A: “Since” is used to talk about a specific point in time when something started. “For” is used to talk about the duration of time that something has been going on.

Q: Can “for” be used with a specific point in time?

A: No, “for” is used to talk about the duration of time and not a specific point in time.

Q: Can “since” be used to talk about duration of time?

A: No, “since” is used to talk about the specific point in time and not the duration of time.

Q: Can “for” be used to indicate causality?

A: No, “for” is used to talk about the duration of time and not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Q: How do we determine if we should use “since” or “for”?

A: If we want to focus on the specific point in time when something started, we use “since.” If we want to focus on the duration of time that something has been going on, we use “for.”

Q: Can “since” be used with a duration of time?

A: Yes, “since” can be used with a duration of time, but it must be used in combination with a present perfect verb tense. For example, “I have been studying for three hours since I woke up this morning.”