Since, during, and for

Starting point, defined period and fixed period

· Grammar,Since-During-For

Consider the unfortunate French abbreviation, S.D.F., which normally means "sans domicile fixe". Those three letters, for our purposes, represent since, during and for. Here's how that's going to help us:

SINCE is with STARTING POINTS -- SS -- Sourcing specialist (link)

[I haven't seen him since last week]... from a starting point in the past until now. A starting point can be an hour (6am), a day (Thursday), a year (1981), etc. Another trick: when you write since, you place a dot, a point, above the letter 'i'--so we use since with points, with starting points. 

Example: I haven't been to the movies since June. (June is the starting point)


DURING is with DEFINED PERIODS -- DD -- Done deal (link)

[My boss slept during the meeting]... we define how long a meeting, lunch, holidays, etc, are. We can have a 5-minute meeting or a 5-hour one. A 10-minute lunch or a sumptous, 2-hour lunch. These durations aren't fixed, they can be longer or shorter. And they usually have a name like meeting, lesson, summer, holidays, match, etc. Another trick: if in French you can say "au cours de," then you can use during.

Example: We decided to have lunch during the football match. (We can say 'au cours du match de foot')

FOR is with FIXED PERIODS -- FF -- Forward facing (link)

[We have lived here for 6 years]... six years is 312 weeks, or 2190 days. It's a fixed period. 2 minutes is fixed as well. You can't make it longer or shorter unless you go into space. Another trick: when you write 'for' you cross the letter 'f', you cross it with a perpendicular line, that line represents a duration (as opposed to a point). For is used with a duration (never a point), a fixed duration.

Example: They decided to stop and stretch their legs after driving for three hours. (Three hours can't be stretched or shortened, three hours is a fixed period)

English, like any other language, isn't a hard science and some of it doesn't follow the rules as well as we'd like it to. But most of it does, and I hope that these little tricks will help you use SDF correctly more often than not.

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