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Many would not be guided which to use, or which indeed, is the correct usage as well as I am myself.

Should it be the past simple or the present perfect?

It's ( it is ) years since I saw her. / It's years since I have seen her.

I know Since = conjunction when it is followed by a simple past and since = preposition when it is followed by a present perfect tense. However, this does not solve such issue of grammar whether since is a preposition or a conjunction.
Sorry : I was hurried and did not look my words carefully.. For part 2 = preposition = normally with present perfect .... I haven't seen him since Monday. Not I didn't see him since Monday.

On the other hand, many would say that "since" is not used with the simple past. For me, I see it is a wrong idea. I know "since" is definitely used when there is apparently starting point, for example, "since 2002", "since 10 April", "since January", "since his birthday", etc.

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  • In both cases the main clause would need to be "It has been years since..." or "It's been years since...". Jul 20, 2022 at 13:41
  • I feel like "It's been years since..." would also be more often heard in common parlance, at least in the USA.
    – Hefe
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:46
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    @BlueDev - your comment serves only to confuse, since the dummy "it," including the one in "it's raining" or "it's been years since...", is in very common use as an essential part of the language and is not a problem, let alone a major problem.
    – cruthers
    Jul 20, 2022 at 15:03
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    @Julien - This Ngram shows that it has been years since has overtaken it is years since, but, as you say, much more strongly in the USA. (As a BrE speaker, I find "It's years since I've seen her" entirely natural.) Jul 20, 2022 at 15:13
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    @BlueDev - You gave one yourself - "it's raining."
    – cruthers
    Jul 22, 2022 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

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This is incorrect:

I know Since = conjunction when it is followed by a simple past and since = preposition when it is followed by a present perfect tense

In fact, "since" is a subordinating conjunction in both of your examples and may in general be followed by either the simple past or present perfect.

We generally use the simple past when a specific time is indicated and the present perfect otherwise. Your example is an ambiguous case, because no time is explicitly mentioned but a specific time is implied (i.e., the time at which the speaker last saw her). Therefore, either version would be acceptable, and both sound natural.

As indicated in the comments, many people (though certainly not all) would prefer that the matrix clause be in the present perfect:

It's been years since I saw her.
It's been years since I have seen her.

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  • Isn't there always an implied specific time?
    – Andrew
    Apr 4, 2023 at 17:23
  • @Andrew No. For example: "I have never been to Brazil." No specific time is implied. Apr 4, 2023 at 18:06
  • Sorry, I mean with "since"
    – Andrew
    Apr 4, 2023 at 22:34
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    @Andrew I believe so, due to the meaning of "since". It means after some time in the past, and that time is generally specific. Nevertheless, there are some gray areas, e.g. "I've been very lonely since you've been gone." (One wouldn't normally say "I've been very lonely since you were gone.") However, I'd say that that "since" uses a different justification for the present perfect (i.e., action that began in the past and continues until the present). Apr 5, 2023 at 12:17
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As much as I read books, I noticed both It is years + since + past simple many books mentioned.. However, for it is years + since + present perfect, the much used, is It has been years

Examples and explanation:

It has been five years since I have seen him. ( implies I haven't seen him for five years. It's five years since I had my accident. ( the present perfect is not acceptable here ) because the idea can be interpreted as : I had the accident five years ago and I might have had that accident at any time since then.

For the user who replied saying : This is incorrect:

I know Since = conjunction when it is followed by a simple past and since = preposition when it is followed by a present perfect tense

Sorry : I was hurried and did not look my words carefully.. For part 2 = preposition = normally with present perfect .... I haven't seen him since Monday. Not I didn't see him since Monday.

I just upload the following notice from one book of grammar.

By the way, this is not the only grammar book which mentioned the same idea. enter image description here

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