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I'm not a native speaker and I use Grammarly to correct my writings.

Today I tried to write:

Since a few minutes we're serving the website from....

and Grammarly keeps asking me to change into:

For a few minutes, we have been serving

Now my writing skills are not perfect, but to me, these two sentences have different meanings. The first one means that we are still serving the website from.... but the second one means that we have stopped doing it.

Am I correct or there is a usage of the word "for" that I don't know yet?

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    Since requires a start time, not a duration. You could get away with 'Since a few minutes ago...' See this question Oct 9, 2023 at 7:34
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    Or "For the last few minutes..." which indicates it's still current.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 9, 2023 at 8:34
  • I do see this usage of "since" in text written by non-native speakers.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 9, 2023 at 8:42
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    Does this answer your question? "since ages" or "for ages"? ('since' with a time period) Oct 9, 2023 at 11:54
  • Didn't you ever study since and for in your English classes? You might want to review those.
    – Lambie
    Oct 9, 2023 at 14:13

1 Answer 1

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It has nothing to do with "for", but with your usage of "since". As @KateBunting mentioned in her comment "since" requires a point in time, not a duration. Probably your native language is German because there "seit" can be used both ways, with a duration and a point in time and German dictionaries often declare "since" to be the tranlation of "seit" - which it is, but only in certain cases:

Seit 3 Uhr 45 ...
Seit einigen Minuten ....

These two phrases translated to English would be:

Since a quarter to 4 ... For a few moments ...

A viable phrasing for your purpose would be:

For a few minutes, we have been serving the website from ...

or ("since", with a point in time):

Since a few minutes ago, we serve the website from ...

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  • awesome response, thanks. I do indeed speak German and Italian. In both languages, the same word can be used with a duration and with a point in time.
    – Gallow
    Oct 9, 2023 at 10:58
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    The use of the present perfect (For a few minutes it has worked) does not entail the meaning that it has stopped working. For a few minutes it has worked; let's hope that it continues to work until the replacement part arrives. Oct 9, 2023 at 12:39
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    Nicely written, and you're right about since and for. However, you're wrong on both counts regarding the use of the present perfect versus present perfect continuous. Both of them are used to describe actions that have now ceased and both of them are used for actions that are ongoing. Also the concern is between using the present continuous and the present perfect continuous. The OP has the right concern here. Ping me if you edit your post and I'll come back and upvote you. Oct 9, 2023 at 16:47
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore.: As an aside, the way I answered is actually what I learned in school, where they "teach the english language a well-educated inhabitant of southern Britain (e.g. Cornwall) speaks". I guess the teaching of English here is not better than the teaching of German elsewhere: fraught with "rules" no native speaker has ever heard of.
    – bakunin
    Oct 10, 2023 at 18:38
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore.: Btw., this site: grammar.collinsdictionary.com/easy-learning/… seems to concur with what I said, or have I misunderstood it completely?
    – bakunin
    Oct 10, 2023 at 18:42

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