Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grammar Basics: Unit 18 – For, Since, and Ago

For, Since, and Ago are similar, but they are not the same. Sometimes it is confusing and difficult to decide which one is the correct one to use. Here are some hints to help you determine whether you should use “for,” “since,” or “ago.”

For and Since

Both of these are used to indicate a time span. In other words, if you are answering the question “How long ~?”, you want to use “for” or “since.”

For:

“For” is used when you are using a specific period of time: one week, three hours, five years, etc.

Examples:

I have been working on my homework for two hours.
Father has been sick for a week.
Tom has been attending college for three years.
She’s been waiting for the bus for a long time.

Since:

“Since” is used when you indicate the beginning of a specified period of time. The period of time continues until the present.

Examples:

I have been working on my homework since 1 o’clock.
Father has been sick since Sunday.
Tom has been attending college since 2005.
She’s been waiting for the bus since this morning.


Ago

“Ago,” on the other hand, just refers to some time in the past. “Ago” uses the simple past tense. You can think of “ago” = “before now.”

Examples:

I worked on my homework four days ago. (= “I worked on my homework four days before now.”)
John came home from college a month ago. (= “John came home from college one month before now.”)
People lived in caves a long time ago.


Exercise: Complete the following sentences, using “for” or “since.”

Example:

I have been practicing the piano ____________ 3 o’clock. ==> I have been practicing the piano since 3 o’clock.

I have been practicing the piano ____________ 90 minutes. ==> I have been practicing the piano for 90 minutes.

1. Jane has been absent from class ____________ Monday.

2. Jane has been absent from class ____________ several days.

3. The baby has been walking ____________ two months.

4. The baby has been walking ____________ January.

5. We have been in business ____________ 2001.

6. We have been in business ____________ over five years.

7. She’s had a pet monkey ____________ last year.

8. She’s had a pet monkey ____________ months.

9. Keith has been playing the piano ____________ he was a young child.

10. Keith has been playing the piano ____________ 20 years.


Exercise: Complete the sentences, using the word in the parentheses and “for” or “ago.”

Example:

I went on vacation (three weeks). ==> I went on vacation three weeks ago.
I have been on vacation (a week). ==> I have been on vacation for a week.

1. We have been driving (six hours).

2. We drove to California (two months).

3. Sam went to the library (ten minutes).

4. Sam has been at the library (three hours).

5. Jim lived in Hawaii (many years).

6. Jim has lived in Hawaii (sixty years).

7. The kids played outside (45 minutes).

8. The kids played outside (two days).

3 comments:

pad thai said...

Absolutely spot-on. I used this to teach and review the grammar for these terms and the students found it very helpful. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely helpful. Thank you!

Tengwan Ambe Frederick said...

Tempted to agree with Pad Thai, a million times over. Teach English to French natives and I my class scored 100% in the application exercise for this lesson.