For/Ago

What’s the difference between for and ago?

For and ago are both used to talk about time, but they are not used in the same way. Ago refers to a time point in the past, while for talks about the duration of an action. Check out the examples and explanations below to learn everything you need to about the difference between ago and for, then test yourself in the free exercises.

Example

Macy lives in London. She has lived there for 4 years.

She used to live in Cape Town. She lived in Cape Town ten years ago. She lived there for 5 years.

Every summer, she goes to Cape Town for a month to visit her friends.

It feels like a long time ago that she lived there.

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Ago

Ago refers to a time point in the past. We use it with a time expression, such as 5 minutes, 2 weeks, 10 years etc.

Examples:
Macy lived in Cape Town 10 years ago.
It feels like a long time ago that she lived there.

Use ago in the simple past, not the present perfect.

Example:
She has lived in Cape Town 10 years ago.

For

For is a preposition of time: it shows the duration of an action and answers the question how long?. We do not use for with fixed time points, only with time periods, such as 2 weeks, 3 days, 10 years etc.

Example:
She lived in Cape Town for 5 years.

For can be used in almost all tenses, and it is frequently used with the present perfect.

Examples:
Now she lives in London. She has lived there for 4 years.
Every summer, she goes to Cape Town for a month to visit her friends.

To learn more, go to our page on for vs. since.