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.
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.