FOR – SINCE – AGO
For, Since, and Ago are similar, but they are not the same. Sometimes it is confusing and difficult to decide which one is the correct one to use. Here are some hints to help you determine whether you should use “for,” “since,” or “ago.”
For and Since
Both of these are used to indicate a time span. In other words, if you are answering the question “How long ~?”, you want to use “for” or “since.”
“For” is used when you are using a specific period of time: one week, three hours, five years, etc.
I have been working on my homework for two hours.
Father has been sick for a week.
Tom has been attending college for three years.
She’s been waiting for the bus for a long time.
“Since” is used when you indicate the beginning of a specified period of time. The period of time continues until the present.
I have been working on my homework since 1 o’clock.
Father has been sick since Sunday.
Tom has been attending college since 2005.
She’s been waiting for the bus since this morning.
“Ago,” on the other hand, just refers to some time in the past. “Ago” uses the simple past tense. You can think of “ago” = “before now.”
I worked on my homework four days ago. (= “I worked on my homework four days before now.”)
John came home from college a month ago. (= “John came home from college one month before now.”)
People lived in caves a long time ago.
FOR – SINCE – AGO
‘For’, ‘since’ and ‘ago’ are used to talk about time.
It is often difficult for learners of English to know when to use ‘for’, ‘since’ and ‘ago’.
Here is a short explanation with examples.
FOR For is used to indicate a period of time.
oHow long are you staying in London? I’m staying for a week.
For is often used with the Present Perfect.
oI have been waiting at the bus stop for 10 minutes.
oI have lived in this country for 5 years.
For can be used with other verb tenses :
oPresent : I go on holidays for two weeks every summer.
oPast : When I was sixteen, I stayed in London for two months.
oFuture :While I am in the USA , I will be in New York for two days.
SINCE Since is used to refer to the starting point of actions or situations.
It is generally used with the Present Perfect.
oI have been waiting for the bus since 8 o’clock.
oI live in Tokyo. I have lived in Tokyo since January 2010.
oI have been learning English since the beginning of the year.
AGO Ago is used to say when past events happened, going back from today towards the past. The verb is in the Past Tense.
oI came to Tokyo two years ago.
oI arrived at the bus stop 10 minutes ago.
oThe company was founded 30 years ago.
Section 2 – Practice
Exercise: Complete the following sentences, using “for” or “since.”
I have been practicing the piano ____________ 3 o’clock. → I have been practicing the piano since 3 o’clock.
I have been practicing the piano ____________ 90 minutes. → I have been practicing the piano for 90 minutes.
1.Jane has been absent from class ____________ Monday.
2.Jane has been absent from class ____________ several days.
3.The baby has been walking ____________ two months.
4.The baby has been walking ____________ January.
5.We have been in business ____________ 2001.
6.We have been in business ____________ over five years.
7.She’s had a pet monkey ____________ last year.
8.She’s had a pet monkey ____________ months.
9.Keith has been playing the piano ____________ he was a young child.
10.Keith has been playing the piano ____ ________20 years.
Exercise: Complete the sentences, using the word in the parentheses and “for” or “ago.”
I went on vacation (three weeks). → I went on vacation three weeks ago.
I have been on vacation (a week). → I have been on vacation for a week.
1.We have been driving (six hours).
2.We drove to California (two months).
3.Sam went to the library (ten minutes).
4.Sam has been at the library (three hours).
5.Jim lived in Hawaii (many years).
6.Jim has lived in Hawaii (sixty years).
7.The kids played outside (45 minutes).
8.The kids played outside (two days).
Time Statements with “Since”, “For” and “Ago”
1.I have been studying English ________ three years.
2.We have been waiting for delivery ________ last Tuesday.
3.They arrived here ten days ________
4.I met him two years ________
5.I have been trying to get through on the phone ________ the past hour.
6.The machine broke down an hour ________
7.I have been driving ________ 1974.
8.The new art gallery has been open ________ October.
9.We had to buy a new washing machine a couple of days ________
10.That politician has been talking ________ six hours.
11.I haven’t had a cigarette ________ I gave up on my birthday last year.
12.I have been waiting ________ only a few minutes.
13.He has been eating in that expensive restaurant ever ________ he got his new job.
14.I left the firm two years ________
15.He has been working here ________ the beginning of the month.
Section 3 – Present Perfect Tense – Already and Yet
Already means that something happened earlier than we expected. With Present Perfect already usually goes after have or has and before the main verb.
– We’ve already had our breakfast.
– When are you going to do your homework?
– But I’ve already done it!
– Do you want a cup of coffee?
– No, thanks. I’ve already had one.”
Yet means that something that we expected has happened or hasn’t happened. We usually put it at the end of a sentence.
– Has the post arrived yet?
– Have you done your homework?
– Not yet.
– Haven’t you got ready yet? Look at the time!