Situating an action in time using for, ago and since
English grammar (See all our English grammar tips)
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Situating an action in time using FOR, AGO and SINCEWays to express duration and time in English differ from other languages. Translating 'since' or 'for' (+ a time period object) is a classic difficulty for learners of English as a foreign language!
Some languages conjugate the verb in the present tense; the present perfect progressive form is used in English. (or even the preterit)
Two cases to distinguish:
|Present Perfect progressive||+ for to indicate how long the action lasts|
|+ since to indicate the moment when the action began|
I have been living in Paris for 3 years.
I have been living in Paris since 2006.
When the action happened in the past, we use the Past Perfect (had instead of have):
• The action is finished:
|Preterit||+ for to indicate the duration of the action|
|+ ago to indicate how much time has passed since the action started|
How many days ago did he play tennis?
He played tennis 10 days ago.
|Since when has Delavigne been making perfumes?|
|Delavigne has been making perfumes since 1933.|
|How long has Delavigne been making perfumes?|
|Delavigne has been making perfumes for seventy-five years.|
|When did Delavigne start making perfumes?|
|How many years ago did Delavigne start making perfumes?|
|Delavigne started seventy-five years ago.|
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