“For” & “Since”, “When” & “How long?”

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Welcome to your “For” & “Since”, “When” & “How long?” lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• “For” and “Since”
“When” and “How long”
“It’s … since …”?
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

“For” and “Since”

For + a period of time Since + a precise moment

“I have been working here for three days.”

“I have been working here since Monday.”

Some words used after for:

three hours / a long time / a week
15 minutes / three months / ages
nine days / twenty years / days

Some words used after since:

nine a.m / June / lunchtime
Friday / 2015 / we met
25 July / Christmas / I woke up

“I’ve been waiting here for ages.”
(not “since ages.”)

She has been smoking for a long time.”
(not “since a long time.”)

“I’ve been waiting here since nine a.m.”
(not “for nine a.m”)

She has been smoking since 2015.”
(not “for 2015.”)

We can normally leave out the word “for”, but not with negative sentences:

“They have been cooking for ten minutes.”
(or “They have been cooking ten minutes.”)

“We haven’t seen him for ages.”
(not “We haven’t seen him ages.”)

We do NOT say “for + all”:

“I have lived in France all my life.”
(not “I have lived in France for all my life.”)

“He has worked all day.”
(not “He has worked for all day.”)

“When” and “How long”

Look at these examples:

James: When did it start raining?” (past simple)
Bob: “It started at ten.”

James: How long has it been raining?” (present perfect continuous)
Bob: “For three hours.”

“When” is used with the Past Simple. “How long” is used with the Present Perfect Continuous.

“It’s … since …”

Have a look at these examples:

It’s a long time since I saw him.”

It’s ages since we went to the cinema.”

We can also ask “How long is it since..?”

How long is it since you last went to the pub?”

How long is it since you moved to Japan?”

You can also say:

It’s been two years since I went to the pub.”

It’s been seven months since I moved to Japan.”

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