For vs. Since

Both 'for' and 'since' are used to talk about how long an action continues. In this lesson, we will learn their uses and differences.

"For" vs. "Since" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between 'since' and 'for' is that 'since' refers to a specific duration of time, and 'for' shows a particular moment in time.

Talking about Time

'Since' and 'for' are both used to talk about time:

  • 'Since' is used to refer to actions and events that occur from a starting point in time then to now.

I have been living in Chile since 2018.

  • 'For' is used to talk about actions and events that occurred during a particular period of time.

I have been living in Chile for 3 years.

Giving Reasons

'Since' can be used to explain the reason behind certain actions or events. Have a look:

I'm insecure since I was bullied as a kid.

I have to stay over time since I need more money.

Expressing Purpose and Favor

We can use 'for' to indicate the function and purpose of something. It can also be used to show that something is done to the benefit of someone or something else. For example:

He bought the tools for his new car.

She borrowed money for her books.

With Tenses

  • When using 'since,' the main verb used in the main clause must be in past or present perfect and past or present perfect continuous tense. Note that 'since' cannot be used with future tenses.

I have been studying since two hours ago.

  • When using 'for,' we can use all tenses with the main verb.

I will study for two hours.

Are They Interchangeable?

'For' and 'since' cannot be used interchangeably unless they are used as conjunctions to talk about reasons and purposes. I this case 'for' is considered outdated and is only used in literary contexts. Have a look:

I called my sister for I have missed her.

I called my sister since I have missed her.

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