Look at this diagram

enter image description here

As shown in the diagram, my children had been staying home for a year due to Covid-19. Within that year, they had never been sick.

A week ago, they started going back to school. A first few days within that week, they were well not sick but now they are sick.

Can we use this structure?:

Past perfect or past perfect continuous + since a point of time in the past + until another point of time in the past

Is it correct to say "She had never been sick since she started staying at home until she started going to school"?

I have a feeling that "until" should be replaced by "by the time"

"She had never been sick since she started staying at home by the time she started going to school"

  • 1
    She was never sick all the time she stayed at home due to Covid. I don't know what you mean by 'they are well not sick but they are sick'. Aug 9, 2022 at 16:47
  • 1
    In your particular sentence, "since" can be misunderstood to mean "because".
    – Mr Lister
    Aug 9, 2022 at 16:47
  • @KateBunting, Sorry I used the wrong tense, I updated "they were well not sick but now they are sick"
    – Tom
    Aug 9, 2022 at 16:50
  • Oh, I see - you mean they were well for the first few days back at school. Aug 9, 2022 at 16:57
  • @KateBunting, yes, I mean that
    – Tom
    Aug 9, 2022 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


First, "never" is absolute, and while you can qualify it by specifying certain circumstances, it only makes sense when speaking about a the circumstance in general. For example "She never got sick when her grandmother was around" makes sense, or "She never got sick when she was home from school" (because "being home from school" is general, not speaking about a particular time period). But in this case, since you are speaking about a specific time period when she was home rather than all times that she was home, "She had not been sick" is much more idiomatic.

Second, "since" usually is used as "Since [some time] until now", with the "until now" implied. If you are specifying an end date, then "from [start time] until [end time]" is usually the construct you would use.

In your case, the most idiomatic way of saying this would be something like "She had not been sick from the time she started staying home until she went back to school." Even better would be the more-concise "She had not been/gotten sick the entire time she was home from school [due to Covid]." You don't need the "from ... until" construct if you can just use one phrase to describe the time period.

  • 3
    This can be written using a While/Since, While she was at home she never got sick. Since she's gone back she's been/gotten sick.
    – EllieK
    Aug 9, 2022 at 16:51
  • (UK usage note: in UK English, ‘gotten’ is archaic; I think you'd be more likely to say that ‘she became ill/unwell’.)
    – gidds
    Aug 10, 2022 at 11:03
  • @gidds I disagree. Gotten is still relatively commonly used in this sort of context in the North of England.
    – Solarflare
    Aug 10, 2022 at 12:09

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