English uses a lot of different prepositions and they are often considered to be one of the hardest parts of grammar.
Today, I’m going to explain some of the common time prepositions we use that can be easily confused. Although the meanings seem similar, using the wrong one can sometimes change the whole meaning of your sentence!
Ago indicates when something started in the past. We use it with the past simple tense. It usually (but not always) goes at the end of a sentence.
This sentence talks about when my work at the restaurant started. Based on this sentence, we don’t know if I still work there or not.
This sentence means that seven days before now, she moved to China. It’s just one event that happened in the past.
When we use ago, we always need to talk about a length of time, not a date. For example:
For is unlike ago in that it talks about how long something takes. Also, unlike ago, it can be used in any tense.
We can assume that he no longer lives in the house because past simple is used. To talk about something that is still true now, make sure to use present perfect tense, like in the example below.
Since is somewhat of a combination of ago and for. It is used to talk about when something started and that it is still happening now. Since is always used with a perfect tense (one that uses have or had).
In the above example, it tells us that the work started in 2016 but also it continues until the present day.
It can also be used in the past tense like in this example. It’s exactly the same as the first sentence except it lasts up until the time the story is being told, and not until the present.
Unlike for and ago, we have to use a date or specific time with since. We cannot talk about a length of time. For example:
Try filling in the blank with either since, for or ago. Answers are at the bottom of the page.
Thanks for reading! If you made it this far, why not leave a comment and let me know if you got all the answers right?