Since/For & Some/Any. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
Quick English grammar study for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.
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How to use since/for and some/any in English
In English conversation you will need to know when to use the words SINCE or FOR, and when to use SOME or ANY. These two grammar concepts are often problem areas for English students. After this lesson you will understand more about the rules. The story at the end of the lesson gives some useful examples too.
Here’s an example of each topic.
- We've been friends since we were three years old.
- We’ve been friends for twelve years.
- I’m really hungry. I need something to eat.
- I'm not hungry. I don't want anything to eat.
Your English lesson about since/for and some/any grammar
In English conversation you will need to know when to use the words SINCE or FOR, and when to use SOME or ANY. These two grammar concepts are common problem areas for English students. After this lesson you will understand more about the rules. The story at the end of the lessons gives some useful examples too.
To begin, we will look at since and for.
Both of these words are often used with the present perfect tense,
but for + a period of time is used to talk about the duration.
In contrast, we use since + a point in time to show the starting point.
Notice how this works in these examples:
Person A: Have you known her since 1990?
Person B: Yes, I have known her for over twenty-five years.
I haven't seen Tom since my high school graduation.
I haven’t seen Tom for twenty years.
We've been friends since we were three years old.
We’ve been friends for twelve years.
It's been raining since early this morning.
It’s been raining for the past 6 hours.
I have taught at this school for a long time.
I have taught at this school since I was twenty-three years old.
For and since can also both be used with the past perfect tense.
He had studied English for 4 years before he studied abroad.
They had lived in China since 2010, but they finally decided to move back to London.
For can also be used with the simple past.
I slept for only 4 hours last night.
Now, let’s move on to some and any.
First, it is important to remember that the rules that are discussed in this lesson also apply to words containing some and any, such as somebody/anybody, something/anything, etc.
The words some and any are used when the speaker cannot specify, or does not need to specify a number or an exact amount. Look at the following examples.
I saw seven deer when riding my bike in the forest yesterday.
(I want you to know how many deer I saw.)
I saw some deer when riding my bike in the forest yesterday.
(I don't know exactly how many deer I saw. Or, it is not important that you know exactly how many deer I saw.)
Some is usually used in positive sentences and any is used in negative sentences. Look at the following sentence pairs to see how this works.
I got some nice presents for Christmas this year.
I didn't get any nice presents for Christmas this year.
This job is going to take some time.
This job won’t take any time at all.
There are some birds on the roof of my school.
There aren’t any birds on the roof of my school.
I'd like to go somewhere hot this summer.
I don’t want to go anywhere hot this summer.
I need some help.
I don't need any help.
I’m really hungry. I need something to eat.
I'm not hungry. I don't want anything to eat.
More since/for and some/any exercises
In addition to negative sentences, any is also used in questions.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Did you catch any fish?
Have you seen any good movies recently?
Does anyone know the answer?
Are you going anywhere this weekend?
As with many grammar rules in English, the use of some and any is a little more complicated. Here are two common occasions when the above rules are broken:
First. Notice that we can use some in questions when we are offering something or requesting something.
Would you like some more coffee?
Could I have some more water, please?
Do you want something to eat?
Second. We also “break the rules” when we use any in positive sentences when we mean that it doesn't matter which …
Any time you need help, just ask me.
Q: Which book shall I read? A: Any one. It's up to you.
You can sit anywhere in the classroom.
Help yourself to anything in the refrigerator.
Lastly, sometimes we use some in a question when we expect a positive YES answer.
Did someone eat my hamburger?
Are you teaching some students now?
It’s story time
Now that we’ve learned a lot about some and any and since and for, let’s see how they are used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to how these words are used.
Ethan finally decided to quit smoking. He knew it would be as hard as anything he had tried to do recently. He had been smoking since he was 15 years old. For the first few years, he sometimes smoked with his friends, but he didn’t smoke very often. However, in recent years, he smoked almost all the time. He realized that he had been smoking for 15 years, and a heavy smoker since he was a university student.
Anytime he got together with any of his friends they would exchange cigarettes. He wasn’t sure how this had become a part of Chinese culture in the first place, but ever since he was a boy he saw business men give each other cigarettes. For as long as he could remember, cigarettes were a common business gift in China.
But today, Ethan had decided to stop. He was ready. He had already prepared himself for the difficult moments. He knew that his friends would offer him cigarettes. “Hey, do you want some cigarettes?” they would ask at work. “Do you have any cigarettes?” would be another common question. For the first few weeks, they would be surprised by his answer.
He also recognized that anytime he walked past a 7-eleven or any other store that sells cigarettes, he was going to be tempted. Anytime he finished a big meal, he would think about smoking. Despite all the temptations, he knew that at some point in the future, it would become easier, and he also looked forward to living a healthy long life.
That’s the end of the lesson about since/for and some/any.
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