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English Grammar - Prepositions Denoting Duration

Prepositions Denoting Duration

Prepositions are words that denote position, direction of movement, or time.

There are certain prepositions that denote time duration. They are from…to, until, since, and for.

From.....to

Examples:
We lived in Canada from 1982 to 1990.
I work from Monday to Friday.

Until

Examples:
They are going away tomorrow. They will be away until Friday.
I went to bed early but I was not tired. I read a book until 3 O’clock.
Wait here until I come back.

Since

Examples:
John is in hospital. He has been in hospital since Monday.
Mr. and Mrs. Kelly have been married since 1972.
It has been raining since I arrived.

For

Examples:
George stayed with us for three days.
I am going away for a few weeks.
I am going away for the weekend.
They have been married for ten years.

Please note that there are important differences in the way these prepositions are used to denote duration.

Compare the pairs of sentences below.

1. How long will you be away? Until Monday.
2. When are you coming back? On Monday.

1. We lived in Canada from 1982 to 1990.
2. We lived in Canada until 1990.

1. Now we live in France. We came to France in 1990.
2. We have lived in France since 1990.

1. We have been studying since morning.
2. We have been studying for the past 6 hours.

Worksheet

Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with appropriate prepositions denoting duration.

  • I was tired this morning. I stayed in bed ............ 10 o’clock.
  • Don’t open the door ............ the train stops.
  • Jack has gone away. He will be away ............ Wednesday.
  • Next week, I am going to Paris ............ three days.
  • Where have you been? I have been waiting for you ............ twenty minutes.
  • This is my house. I have lived here ............ I was seven years old.
  • We waited for Sue ............ half an hour, but she didn’t come.
  • I am tired. I am going to lie down ............ a few minutes.
  • “Have you just arrived?” “No, I have been here ............ half past seven.”
  • “How long did you stay at the party last night?” “I stayed ............ midnight.”

Answers

  • I was tired this morning. I stayed in bed since 10 o’clock.
  • Don’t open the door until the train stops.
  • Jack has gone away. He will be away until Wednesday.
  • Next week, I am going to Paris for three days.
  • Where have you been? I have been waiting for you for twenty minutes.
  • This is my house. I have lived here since I was seven years old.
  • We waited for Sue for half an hour, but she didn’t come.
  • I am tired. I am going to lie down for a few minutes.
  • “Have you just arrived?” “No, I have been here since half past seven.”
  • “How long did you stay at the party last night?” “I stayed until midnight.”

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