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Do you have friends from the past that you haven’t seen again? Imagine you are going to see an old friend again after a long time. What would you like to ask him/her? Would you like to know what they have done in their lives? Could you tell them your experiences? Here, you are going to review the structure you need to ask those questions: Present Perfect. In English, the Present Perfect Tense is used to express our experiences in life, but sometimes we need to be more specific about the time when those experiences happened. Look at the following cartoon:

Did you like the cartoon? Funny, right? The man is asking ‘how long he has worked in that place’, and the other man answers the specific moment when he started ‘since I heard you coming’. To specify the time when your experiences began we use the prepositions since and for.

In this lesson you will review the structure of present perfect to talk about your experiences, and basically, you will recognize the use of the prepositions since and for to specify the time. This is very important because this will help you to give more information when you express your life experiences.

  • First section: we will check the present perfect structure and the difference in the use of the prepositions since and for.
  • Second section: you will have the opportunity to practice your grammar with some practice exercises.
  • Third section: you will practice your reading, listening, writing and speaking abilities with the topic.

Hombres en oficina


So, at the end of this lesson you will: Use actions and situations that began in the past and continue in the present using the prepositions for and since, through the revision of the present perfect tense and vocabulary related to routines in order to express previous experiences. To complete the objective, it is very important that you finish all the activities for the subject review and the development of the activities to help finish the topic successfully. Are you ready to start? Excellent Let's start.

Life experiences?

What’s the best experience you have ever had? Look at the pictures, have you had these experiences before?

Present Perfect is formed with the auxiliary HAVE or HAS and the Past participle of the verb:

  • I have kissed somebody.
  • He has been to another country.

To form the negative, just add not (n’t) to the auxiliary:

  • She hasn’t swum with dolphins.
  • We haven’t gotten married.

Once you have checked the structure, can you share any experience you have had in the forum? Of course, you CAN!! Go to the forum and tell your classmates 3 experiences you have had in your life and one you haven’t had, but you would like to do it.

For example:

I have eaten French food but I haven’t studied French. It can be interesting.

Be sure in your participation you include:

  • 4 experiences (3 you have had and 1 you haven’t).
  • A short comment about your experiences.
  • A comment for 2 of your classmates’ experiences.

To post your contribution, click on the Add a new discussion topic here button. Then write the Subject and type your comment in Message. Once you finish, click on Post to Forum.

When we describe our experiences in English we use Present Perfect:

So far, we have talked about your experiences, and in the forum activity you could know more about your classmates’.

Now it is time to study the main topic of our lesson.

Sometimes, it is interesting to know the period, or the specific time your experience lasted or when it started. Would you know to express this and how to do it? To do that, we use the prepositions SINCE and FOR. We use these prepositions to express HOW LONG something has happened.

SINCE is used to describe the specific time when the action began. It helps you to express the starting point of the action, in this case, your experience.

SINCE expresses the starting point of an action that you started in the past but continues in the present. It refers to the specific point in the past. Example:

I have studied English since I was in high school

The specific point when I started studying was in high school.

They have lived in New York since 2002

They started living in New York in 2002 and continue living there until today.

Some of the expressions you can use with the preposition SINCE are:

  • last Tuesday
  • 8 o’clock
  • Monday
  • 2011
  • I was a child
  • January
  • this afternoon
  • yesterday

FOR is used for general periods of time. It helps you to express duration of the action, in this case, your experience.

For refers to the period of time and action has happened. It is the period since the past to the present. It is the duration of the action. Look at the examples:

She has driven for six years.

She began to drive six years ago, but we refer to the period of six years that she has done that activity.

His father hasn’t played professionally for 20 years.

The period he hasn’t played professionally is 20 years.

Some of the expressions you can use with the preposition FOR are:

  • two years
  • 20 minutes
  • Six months
  • a long time
  • two centuries
  • eight hours
  • some days
  • all my life
For Since
a life time 1999
three months Today
five hours Friday
some years I left school
two days. Last summer


Exercise 1: Since or For?

We will check if the lesson was clear and you can identify the difference in use of the prepositions since and for talking about experiences. This is only practice, so you can try the exercise many times.


Activity 1

A life full of experience

Experiences in life mark us. Some for good some for bad. There are people who face life experiences which are simply inspiring.

Read the text about Nick Vujicic life experiences and discover everything is possible. Get the main idea of each paragraph, then drag and put them in the correct order.


Derungs, S. (2011). Nick Vujicic. Taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nick_Vujicic_at_the_World_Economic_Forum_Annual_Meeting,_Davos,_Switzerland_-_20110130.jpg

Activity 2


Now that you have read about this incredible man, let’s practice comprehension, an important skill when reading. Answer true (T) or false (F) according to the previous information.



Long Time no see!

In this activity you will listen for general ideas. Liz and Mark have seen each other after a long time. Listen to the dialogue and answer the questions true (T) or false (F).


Listening for details

Listen again and complete the specific information from the dialogue. Who… (L) or Mark (M)?

Kenmore. (2012). How long have you been married? [Video]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWYnO8rtyuA

Activity 5

Every-day English: how long have you been married?

In this activity you will listen for main ideas. Watch the video: “How long have you been married”. Then complete the chart.


Listening for details

Watch the video again and answer the specific information for each of the following characters:

How long have they been married?

Use since and for in your answer.

To post your contribution, click on the Add assignment button. A word processor will appear and you can type your activity or answer. Once you finished, save your work by clicking on the Save changes button.


Activity 7

Write a mail for your friend.

Before writing:

Imagine you are going to write a mail for an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time.

What experiences would you like to tell him/her? Tell him/her some things you have done recently.

You will use the following rubric to evaluate yourself.

Writing a mail:

Now, use your ideas to write a mail for your friend. Write your mail in 3 paragraphs (80-100 words):

  • First paragraph: say hello to your friend and explain the reason of your mail.
  • Second paragraph: Tell your friend what you have done since you haven’t seen (follow your notes) and make some comments about those activities.
  • Third paragraph: Ask your friend what he/she has done? Say good bye.

After typing your activity on a word processor, save it to your computer.


Activity 8

Tell us about you

We would like to know some of your experiences.

Read and answer the questions with information about you.

In your answers include the present perfect tense to express your experience and the prepositions since and for to specify the time.

  1. How long have you studied English?
  2. How long have you studied in this lesson?
  3. How long have you lived in your house?
  4. How long have you been in your school/job?
  5. How long have you had your pet/car/cellphone?

Make a recording with your answers.

Listen to an example here

Now record yourself. When you finish, use the following rubric to get your score.


Complete with Since or For

In this test we will check your ability to identify the correct expressions for the prepositions since or for.


Main References

  • Kenmore. (2012). How long have you been married? URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?V=gwyno8rtyua
  • Life without limbs (2014) “Nick Vujicic Bio” Recuperado de: https://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/about-nick/bio/
  • Murphy, R. (2002) Basic Grammar in Use. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Additional references

  • Unsrwatv. (2013). Present Perfect (since / for). URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?V=7shxfgc8xuu
  • Fun Lessons. (SF). PRESENT PERFECT – How long, since & for. [Mensaje en un blog]. Https://funlessons.wordpress.com/present-perfect-how-long-since-for/