I am not sure what to use in the following sentence:

Since/For weeks he had been waiting for the reply.

(He is still waiting for the reply. He hasn't received it yet)

I have searched and found that "since" is used to mention the starting point of a period of time that continues to now. So is "since" the right option here?

2 Answers 2


The explanation you found contains the answer. "Since" requires a starting point. "Weeks" identifies a duration, not its start. The following is correct:

Since June he had been waiting for the reply.

This version would be more natural because the starting point is the new information:

He had been waiting for the reply since June.

Use "for" to indicate the duration:

He had been waiting for the reply for weeks.

  • 2
    We don't know anything about the OP, but as a comment, not all languages have this distinction between "since" and "for". For example in French "depuis" is used for both meanings. "Il habite Paris depuis 5 ans" and "Il habit Paris depuis 2016" are both correct. (He has been living in Paris for 5 years / since 2016).
    – alephzero
    Jul 12, 2021 at 13:22
  • @alephzero That's presumably the reason why "since weeks" is used by many people for whom English is not their primary language. I've become accustomed to seeing it on the Internet.
    – Barmar
    Jul 12, 2021 at 15:17
  • 1
    Since he's still waiting, you need to use "has" instead of "had". Jul 12, 2021 at 19:51
  • @DavidSchwartz: Strictly speaking, the pluperfect (past perfect) merely implies that something interrupted his period of waiting. He could have resumed waiting afterwards. But I agree that "had" is probably wrong in most cases where he's still waiting.
    – Kevin
    Jul 12, 2021 at 21:53

If you look at the definition of since in the Cambridge dictionary, it says

from a particular time in the past until a later time, or until now

"from a particular time" must be something like "july" or "2009" or "4pm".

If you want to specify a time interval, like a week or an hour, you have to use for.

for weeks is a prepositional phrase, and we normally put prepositional phrases after the sentence. Also, you use past perfect had been waiting if he was waiting until some time in the past. If he has been waiting until now, you should use present perfect has been waiting:

He has been waiting for the reply for weeks.

Prepositional phrases are a special kind of adverbial, and you are allowed to move adverbials to the start of a sentence, followed by a comma:

For weeks, he has been waiting for the reply. -unusual

This places an emphasis on the adverbial: in my opinion, the emphasis is not appropriate for this sentence, so placing the prepositional phrase at the end sounds better.

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