She has graduated [in / since] 1990.
This sentence is in my homework and I don't know which answer I should choose.
Choosing since doesn't make the sentence meaningful I think the correct answer is in even that my teacher says since
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Neither you nor your teacher are correct, as neither "in" nor "since" would be grammatical (at least not without a lot of background information).
The problem is with the present perfect has graduated, which is an awkward conjugation of the verb. There are few cases where it makes sense, as it indicates an action recently completed. For example:
He has recently graduated from college
He has graduated from college, but he's considering going back for a graduate degree
Some people might use it to talk about the school where you graduated from:
He has graduated from Harvard.
However, in this case I would simply use the simple past "graduated" -- which is also what I would use when talking about the time frame:
She graduated from Harvard in 1990.
Graduating is a single event, that does not normally continue over time, so you would never use "since" -- except perhaps ironically:
Our lazy son has been "graduating" since 2015. Maybe this year it'll actually become official.
(Edit) As Daniel Roseman points out
I last saw her in 1990, when she had not graduated; she has graduated since then.
is grammatical, although in a very specific context. You could just as easily say something like:
She had not yet graduated in 1990, which was the last time I saw her, but I heard she eventually did graduate.
It depends on what information you want to emphasize in the sentence.
I almost agree with Andrew's answer (edit: Andrew has now edited his answer to include this point). Certainly "she has graduated in 1990" is not grammatical, and "she graduated in 1990" is what I would expect a native speaker to say. That should be an option, and then it would be correct.
However, I think "she has graduated since 1990" is grammatical, but wrong in this case because it means something different to what is (presumably) intended. It suggests that you don't know exactly when she graduated, but it was sometime between 1990 and now.
Out of context, it is not very idiomatic (why not say "She graduated after 1990"?), but you might see the same construction more naturally in sentences like "She has graduated since 1990, when I last saw her."
It is quite possible that different educational establishments refer to graduation in slightly different ways. In those establishments (in England) that I know about the usual form would be :"she graduated in...".
Using the word "since", as in "I graduated since five years" is a common mistake made by non-native speakers of English when the correct form is "I graduated five years ago."
"She has graduated in 1990" to me [native English speaker, general American dialect] would be correct only if the sentence was uttered in 1990. If the year of her graduation was 1990 and you are speaking after 1990 then you have to say "She graduated in 1990".
If the year of her graduation was later than 1990 then you could say "She has graduated since 1990". In this case it implies there is something especially relevant about the year 1990. For example, imagine you are talking about some rule about how student loans are handled during bankruptcy, which applies differently to students who graduated in 1990 or earlier than it does to students who graduated after 1990. Then it would be correct to say, "She has graduated since 1990." Especially Lime gave another great example with "She has graduated since 1990, when I last saw her."
If there is not some event that happened in 1990 which is providing context for the statement, but you are just saying that the year of her graduation was later than 1990 you would say "She graduated after 1990."
If there is evidence ca. 1990 that she had not (at that time) graduated, you could say, "She has graduated since 1990", meaning after that date. It's not the phrasing I would use, but I believe it would be acceptable and - in that context - generally understood.
Since implies an ongoing state or process which started at the point in time stated.
So you might say 'she has been a graduate since 1990'. (this is actually a bit clunky but is the closes expression to your example).
Has or have plus the past participle indicates a habitual, repetitive or ongoing action or state. While graduated is to single discrete action.
Even if she has graduated several times in that period you would hardly call graduation habitual without more specific information.
So you have several options :
Normally the present perfect tense (she has graduated) is not used when the time is specified.
Q: Is she still a student ? A : No, she has graduated.
Q: Is she still a student ? A: No, she graduated in 1990.