I have been reading some news on the BBC web page (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37935357), which is about people migrating illegally into USA.

And the text of the news has the following sentence:

"....Josefa, who looks after her daughter's children, has not heard from her in months."

The sentence has the expression "in months", which seems incorrect. But it is a BBC web site, which I think is careful about correct usage of English.

So I wanted to ask. Why does the news text not say "for months" but "in months"? Could it be just a typing error or can we really use "in months" instead of "for months" to refer to a long period time in the English Language.


2 Answers 2


In this context "for months" and "in months" are equivalent - see 1 and 2 for examples where they are listed as interchangeable. This is because the clause is negative. There is a difference between the two: "for months" would indicate the continuous stretch of time in which there was no communication, while "in months" refers to the fact that the last communication was months ago, but these distinctions only matter if you are referring to a positive action (you can't say "I've been calling her in months", for example).


Both are in use, but for months seems to be more favoured in the UK and Australia than in North America.

Data from the GloWBe corpus:

[neg] [verb] in months: US:22; CA:10; UK:13; AU:5;

[neg] [verb] for months: US:31; CA:11; UK:41; AU:12;

(The numbers aren't very big, and may not be significant. But to my British ear, "in months" sounds American).

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