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

  • Are you in India? I agree with the first two answers, but suspect that ‘standard’ usage may be different there. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:23
  • 11
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about homework prepared by third parties who are not competent English speakers.
    – Kaz
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 6:13
  • Is there any further context to the question? Is it part of a group of similar questions?
    – Myles
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 16:18

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 7
    Regarding "since", you could also say "She has been a graduate since 1990" (mildly awkward but grammatical) or "She has held a Bachelor's degree since 1990". Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 3:14
  • 2
    Or "She has been graduated since 1990"
    – user64742
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:02
  • 1
    I agree with this. "X has graduated since 1990" would be possible if graduating were some habitual activity. For instance "he has played the flute since 1990". This cannot refer to having played just one time.
    – Kaz
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 6:06
  • 13
    I disagree. This is perfectly grammatical: "I last saw her in 1990, when she had not graduated; she has graduated since then." Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:03
  • 10
    I second @Daniel Roseman. "She has graduated since 1990" makes sense if 1990 is the point of reference and the graduation took place between then and now. This is a very particular context, but it is possible that such a context existed in the source of the original quotation.
    – Tashus
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:30

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."

  • 3
    This means that the form of the sentence isn't correct and we should use the past simple instead of the present perfect
    – Ali
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 22:38
  • Yes, unless for some strange reason that university uses a different form of the English language - which might sound unlikely but is possible.
    – JeremyC
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 22:45
  • @Ali: The form might be grammatically correct (I wouldn't know :-)), it's just not the way a native speaker would say it.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 6:30
  • "She has graduated since five years" (a time interval) is not the same as "She has graduated since 1990 (a date). As @EspeciallyLime's answer says, "She has graduated since 1990" is correct, but probably doesn't mean what the OP wanted to say. It usually means something like "it must be true that she graduated some time between 1990 and now, but I don't know the exact date".
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:01
  • @jamesqf No, it's not grammatical because that's not how "since" works. But "depuis" in French and "seit" in German might be used to express this in those languages, and they are both often translated as "since", which in some contexts is correct. This is one context where they aren't correct though. Presumably the same might apply in other languages, but I couldn't say.
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 21:09

"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 :

  • She graduated in 1990 : a specific action completed in the past.
  • She has been a graduate since 1990 : an ongoing state which began in 1990.
  • She has graduated since 1990 : she graduated at some unspecified time after 1990. This is a bit contextual and just as a statement of fact it would be more usual to say she graduated after 1990. In this context since is more likely to be used in the form of a question 'has she graduated since 1990?'. even then there are only a few contexts where it would be an appropriate usage. You tend to see it on things like official forms which are asking for very specific information.

Normally the present perfect tense (she has graduated) is not used when the time is specified.

For example

Q: Is she still a student ? A : No, she has graduated.


Q: Is she still a student ? A: No, she graduated in 1990.

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