FOR, SINCE, AGO: Learn English Grammar

For, since, ago

For, since, ago can be confusing for many learners of English. This article looks at when we use them.

We use since to talk about a time in the past when we started doing something or something started happening.

We use the present perfect or present perfect continuous to show something that started in the past but is still happening or important to the present.

Since + a point of time in the past

I have been living in England since 2008.

I have lived in this house since May.

They have been married since June, 2009.

Tom has been working for BMW since he was 19 years old.

Peter and Jane have known each other since they were babies.

I’ve been so busy I haven’t  eaten anything since I got up this morning and it’s nearly bedtime.

We use for to talk about the length of time something has been happening.

We use the perfect tenses and a period of time, for example, twenty five minutes, eight years, six weeks.

For + a length of time

I have been a teacher for twenty years.

She has had her own company for five years.

They would have been married for seventy years next month but sadly Doris died last week.

Paul has been in his new job for only a week.

I’ve been waiting for my train for over an hour. It’s really late!

We use ago to talk about when something happened in the past.

We use the past tense.

Length of time + ago

I left London and moved to Germany twenty years ago.

Julie and Sam got married six months ago.

The brothers started their own company five years ago.

Shakespeare died 499 years ago (as of 2015).

The girls got home ten minutes ago.

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