Prepositions ‘For,’ ‘During,’ and ‘Since’: Examples, Usage & Differences

Bodhi Ramosreviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process7 min
Created: Jul 27, 2023Last updated: Feb 13, 2024
Prepositions ‘For,’ ‘During,’ and ‘Since’

Are you on a quest to perfect your English grammar? An essential step is mastering prepositions, those tiny words that connect nouns, pronouns, and phrases. ‘For,’ ‘since,’ and ‘during’ are prepositions that can often confuse learners. Although they may seem simple initially, their usage can be tricky. But fear not! In this guide, we’ll break down the nuances of these prepositions and equip you with the knowledge to use them correctly.

Comparing the Prepositions ‘During,’ ‘For,’ and ‘Since’

The prepositions ‘for,’ ‘since,’ and ‘during’ are frequently used when expressing various concepts of time. However, they are not interchangeable, each having a unique role in shaping meaning.

The preposition ‘for’ is employed to specify a duration or period. It indicates the length of time an action has been taking place. For instance, in the sentence ‘I have lived here for five years,’ the word ‘for’ tells us how long the speaker has been residing in a particular location.

Conversely, ‘since’ is a preposition that denotes the starting point of an action or event that continues to the present. It’s typically employed with perfect tenses. Take the sentence, ‘I have been studying since morning.’ Here, ‘since’ helps us understand that the studying began in the morning and has continued to the present moment.

Lastly, is ‘during’ a verb? Of course, not! It’s a preposition used to signify when something occurs within a certain period or event. It doesn’t indicate duration or starting point; it refers to a happening within a particular time frame. For example, in ‘I read a book during the flight,’ ‘during’ tells us that the reading happened at some point in the flight duration.

The sections below will delve deeper into the usage of each preposition and provide examples to clarify their distinctions in meaning further. Let’s explore!

The Use of ‘For’

The preposition ‘for’ is one of English cornerstones, primarily used to express durations. It sets the timeframe for an action, event, or condition, giving listeners or readers a sense of how long something lasted. It is typically used with hours, days, weeks, or even longer periods.

For instance, consider the sentence, ‘I’ve lived in New York for five years.’ The ‘for’ denotes that the person’s residence in New York spans five years. It signifies a period during which an action occurred and may also imply that the action is still ongoing, as in the previous example. It can also refer to an action in the past, as in ‘He worked for eight hours yesterday.’

One noteworthy point about ‘for’ is that it is compatible with different verb tenses. It works with the simple present (‘I sit in traffic for an hour every day’), present perfect continuous (‘They have been dancing for two hours’), past perfect (‘He had studied for three years before he passed the exam’), and more. Here are some examples to illustrate the usage of the preposition further:

  • For the past three enriching years, I’ve studied the English language intensely.
  • We’ve been waiting for your arrival for just over an hour.
  • Last summer, she rigorously practiced the piano for two hours daily.
  • They’ve been happily married, sharing their lives for an impressive span of twenty-five years.
  • Her culinary skills are unmatched; she’s been the beloved family chef for as long as my memory stretches.
  • He demonstrated financial discipline, consistently saving money for six months to purchase that coveted car.

It’s essential to remember that ‘for’ has other uses, like indicating purpose (‘Let’s go to the pub for a drink’) or reason (‘He was late for the traffic’). It also expresses connections and relationships between people or things (‘It’s a gift for my sister’).


The Preposition ‘Since’

In the realm of English prepositions, ‘since’ plays an instrumental role in depicting the beginning of an event or action. Unlike ‘for,’ which addresses duration, ‘since’ directs our attention to the specific point in time when an event began, providing a reference that something started in the past and may still be ongoing.

In the sentence ‘I have been living here since 2015,’ ‘since’ highlights that 2015 is the starting point of the speaker’s residence. It also suggests continuity to the present moment or even beyond. This continuity is essential because ‘since’ is most commonly used with perfect tenses that inherently express actions from the past to the present.

Consider the example, ‘She has been studying since morning.’ Here, ‘since’ does not communicate how long the studying lasted, unlike ‘for,’ but instead tells us when the studying started – in the morning. It also implies that the studying is likely still happening. Here are a few more ‘since’ examples:

  • She has adhered to a vegetarian diet since the spring of 2012.
  • Their bond is unbroken; they have remained best friends since childhood.
  • He’s been studying hard since he received his last exam results.
  • I’ve been feeling much better since I started exercising regularly.
  • The once bustling shop has remained eerily closed since the owner fell ill.
  • I’ve lived in this city since last year.

‘Since’ isn’t solely time-bound; it can also convey causation. In the sentence ‘Since you’re not interested, I’ll go alone,’ ‘since’ means ‘because.’ But when it comes to expressing time, remember, ‘since’ is your go-to preposition for indicating when something began.

Understanding the Preposition ‘During’

The word ‘during’ is a temporal guide, signaling when an event happens within a specified time frame. Unlike ‘for’ and ‘since,’ which are related to an event’s duration and start, ‘during’ simply tells us that an event occurred at some point within a given period.

Take, for instance, the sentence, ‘She fell asleep during the movie.’ Here, the word ‘during’ is a preposition that indicates that the event (falling asleep) occurred at some point within the timeframe of another event (the movie). However, it doesn’t tell us when in the movie she fell asleep or for how long.

One key note is that ‘during’ should always precede a noun or noun phrase. You wouldn’t say ‘during I was at school,’ but rather ‘during my time at school.’ This usage differentiates ‘during’ from another time conjunction, ‘while,’ which precedes a clause with a subject and a verb, as in ‘while I was at school.’ Below, we will provide a few more examples of ‘during’ in the past tense:

  • I met several inspiring individuals during my tenure at the company.
  • She discovered her love for painting during art classes.
  • During the concert, everyone was on their feet, clapping and dancing.
  • We visited multiple historical sites during our trip to Rome.
  • He learned to cook during the lockdown.
  • During the match, the crowd cheered loudly for their favorite team.

‘During’ is a powerful tool in your English language toolkit, allowing you to place events within specific timeframes. By accurately using it, you can give a clearer picture of when events take place, helping to bring precision and clarity to your English communication.

Discover Prepositions ‘For,’ ‘During,’ and ‘Since’ With Examples

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As we conclude, remember that understanding the prepositions ‘during,’ ‘since,’ and ‘for’ is crucial in expressing time accurately in English. With these ones in your arsenal, you can accurately convey durations, starting points, and occurrences within specific periods. So keep practicing and applying your knowledge in various contexts. With consistent usage and careful observation, you will master the distinctions between them in no time!


Are there any other prepositions used to express time in English?

Yes, indeed. Other prepositions commonly used to depict time in English include ‘at,’ ‘on,’ ‘in,’ ‘by,’ and ‘before.’ Each has unique rules and usage patterns. For example, ‘at’ is typically used for precise times, ‘on’ for specific days, and ‘in’ for longer periods.

Are there synonyms for ‘for,’ ‘since,’ and ‘during’?

Yes, but the synonyms might not always convey the exact meaning or be grammatically correct in every context. For example, the preposition ‘since’ can often be replaced with ‘from,’ ‘throughout,’ can sometimes substitute ‘during,’ and ‘for’ can occasionally be exchanged with ‘over.’

How can I practice using ‘for,’ ‘since,’ and ‘during’?

Practicing the use of ‘for,’ ‘since,’ and ‘during’ involves regular reading and listening exercises in English. Attempt writing sentences with these prepositions and seek feedback from proficient speakers.

What are some resources to help practice the use of prepositions?

Several digital resources can help you practice these prepositions, including websites like EnglishClub and AgendaWeb. These websites offer various exercises. Furthermore, platforms like BBC Learning English also provide interactive lessons and quizzes to reinforce your understanding.


PromovaAug 31st, 2023
Excellent question! One common mistake is using 'during' when 'since' is needed to indicate the starting point of an action. Another is omitting the reference point after 'since', as in "I've been studying since.
Tolan covilAug 31st, 2023
what are some common mistakes people make when using these prepositions?