As mentioned in this week’s Tip of the Week, we’ll be going over a couple words that can cause confusion for English learners- ‘for’ and ‘since.’ Let’s start with a basic difference by defining each word:
~We use ‘for’ to talk about a period of time. So when you think of time phrases like “ten minutes” or “three months” or “a long time,” the necessary choice is ‘for.’ For example: “I’ve been studying English for five years.”
~We use ‘since’ to specify when a period of time began. This is the typical example of time phrases like “since January” or “since I was a child.” For example: “I’ve been studying English since 2010.” ‘Since’ indicates a specific point in the past, and we are referring to a period of time that commenced at that point.
A very common mistake begins to creep in when dealing with ‘ago’ phrases. Many students will use them in ‘since’ sentences. This is a mistake. Let’s take a look at one example:
~I’ve studied English since three months ago.
In this case, we need to simply specify the month. If this month is December, and you started studying English three months ago, then we must say:
~I’ve studied English since September.
It’s also worth noting that you can communicate the same idea in different ways:
~I started studying English three months ago.
~I’ve been studying English for three months.
To reiterate, if you want to use a ‘since’ sentence, then specify the point at which the period of time began; don’t use an ‘ago’ phrase.
As a final clarification to cap off the blog entry for this week, we’re going to solve a certain prepositional problem (pesky prepositions!) once and for all: for days of the week, we use ‘on,’ and for months of the year, we use ‘in.’ For example:
~We started this exercise on Monday.
~We started working here in February.
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