For/Since

What’s the difference between for and since?

For and since are often used with the present perfect tense, and they both answer the question how long?, however, they are not interchangeable. For is used with a time period, while since is used with a fixed time point. Keep reading to learn all about the difference between for and since in English, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises below.

Example

Mr and Mrs Clarke are visiting Berlin.

They haven’t been to Berlin since 2005. They wanted to see if the city has changed.

They have been in Berlin for 3 days and they plan to stay there for a week.

For + Period of Time

  • For is a preposition of time that indicates the duration of an action.
Example:
They have been in Berlin for 3 days.
Examples:
They have been in Berlin for 3 days. (present perfect simple)
We have been travelling for 6 months. (present perfect progressive)
Claire lived in Paris for 2 years. (past simple)
  • For is followed by time period, e.g. an hour, 2 days, 10 years etc.
Example:
They plan to stay in Berlin for a week.

Still curious about the preposition for? Check out our page on for vs. ago.

Since + Point in Time

  • Since shows us the fixed point when an action started.
Example:
They have been in Berlin since Friday.
They arrived in Berlin on Friday.
  • We cannot use since with time periods, we only use since with a fixed time point, such as yesterday, last week, the 12th of March etc.
Example:
They have been waiting since 7 o’clock in the morning.
Example:
They have wanted to visit Berlin since their last trip. (present perfect simple)
Mr and Mrs Clarke have been shopping since this morning. (present perfect progressive)