‘for’ and ‘since’ again

Notice in the video how many times Alex says ‘so’ (alors) ‘OK’ (bon) ‘right?’ (n’est-ce pas? /c’est ça euh?)
English speakers punctuate their speech with these little words, just like French speakers do with ‘alors’ ‘fin’ ‘bien’ ‘eh?’ This is probably more important to know than the lesson itself!

Try the quiz at the end.

1. I've worked here ______ two years.

2. I've been playing guitar _____ 20 years.

3. I've wanted to visit Timbuktu _______ I was a child.

4. Where've you been? I've been looking for you _____ ages.

5. How long have you had this problem? - ______ Thursday.

6. It's been cooking ______ 1 hour, so it should be ready now.

7. Man has been making music _____ the beginning of time.

It's the best invention _______ sliced bread!

Hi this is Alex, and welcome to this lesson on using ‘for’ and ‘since’. Now we use these two terms when you want to talk about something that began in the past so the tenses that you’ll most often be using ‘for’ and ‘since’ with will be the present perfect and the present perfect progressive.

So when we use ‘for’ and ‘since’ again we want to, depending on if you want to talk about for how long you have been doing something versus when you began doing something, you’ll use one or the other, for instance we use ‘for’ when we want to talk about how long we have been doing something. So we’re talking about
a specific duration of time. For instance, ‘I have lived in Canada for five years’ for example.
When we use ‘since’ we talk about when we began doing something, at which point we started something:
‘I have known how to drive since 1996’ or something like that.

OK so let’s look at the examples that we have on the board. So remember we use ‘for’ when we want to talk about how long we’ve been doing something and we use ‘since’ when we talk about at which point we began doing something.

OK so, ‘it has rained (blank) 9am’ so we know that 9am is a specific time, right? So a specific time in the past we would use ‘since’- ‘it has rained since 9am’

Let’s look at the second example, also dealing with rain, ‘it has rained (blank) three hours’. Now, unlike 9am, 9am is a specific time in the past, right? 3 hours is a span of time, how long something has been happening.
‘It has rained for 3 hours’, remember a span of time we use ‘for’.

Let’s continue.
‘I have known how to read (blank) grade three. Or since the third grade, if you want to be specific. OK So grade three is a specific moment in the past, right? it already happened. So let’s look at our rules and it would be ‘since’. Right? so grade three is not a specific span of time, grade three is something that has
happened it’s finished, it’s over… so let’s look at the next one:

‘she’s been waiting (blank) 45 minutes’

Again 45 minutes – specific span of time, right? So, ‘she’s been waiting for 45 minutes’.
OK so finally, ‘I have lived here (blank) 4 years.’

So again, we have 3 hours, 45 minutes, 4 years, all measures of specific periods of time, so we use ‘for’ in that case:
‘I have lived here for 4 years’. OK.

So just a reminder, when you are using ‘for’, you’re talking about a specific duration of time, how long something has been happening, versus when you use ‘since’, which tells a person when you began doing something, or a specific moment in the past.


  1. l’m confusing betwen for and since. when l read the rule, l anderstand , but when l do exersices l confuse betwen them. so, what can l do, please?

    • Sadia,

      I completely agree with you! I’ve said it before and I’ll it again, gap fill and multiple choice exercises have very little pedagogical value. I do these exercises in French sometimes, and even if I get all the answers right, it doesn’t help me with my spoken French.

      My advice (still the same) is to memorise some of the examples in the exercises which you will use as a model when you have to create new language. Certain sentences and phrases get used again and again, so just learn them by heart – so that you have something useful to say without having to analyse grammatical rules. (you will have already read this advice if you have subscribed to the newsletter 😉 )

  2. Hello there!

    I’ve done the exercice concerning “for” and “since” and I am puzzled about one particular answer.

    The result for number 6 is “It’s been cooking “since” 1 hour, so it should be ready now. I don’t get it. I would have said either “It’s been cooking for 1 hour” or “It’s been cooking since 1 o’clock”. Could you enlighten me about thiat?

    Thanks a lot. I am looking forward to reading from you.

    • Nadège,
      It seems that I put the wrong answer on question 6! I’m going to correct it right now. Thank you very much for signalling this error.

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