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.




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.




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.




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.


[mlw_quizmaster quiz=21]


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