I have to do this task, choose which sentences could be completed with an adverbial expression and which are ungrammatical when an adverbial expression is added. What do you think, is it possible to use the present simple with "since"? For example, I have this sentence:

Deputy chief constable fights against crime since he was first appointed.

Is it grammatical to put "since" here?

4 Answers 4


Usually, we don't use "since" in the simple past. However, there are a few specific cases in which we can use it as follows:

1- We can use it as a time adverb such as it's long/a long time since I met him, it's two weeks since I joined the bank, etc.

2- We can also use it as a conjunction where it means "because" such as since you don't have money, I'll not take you to the market, you should take Mr Adam's permission since he is our General Manager.

As for the sentence "Deputy chief constable fights against crime since he was first appointed", I don't think this is acceptable although some people contend that when you have been doing an activity regularly for a long time, you can use since in the present simple for this activity. I don't think it's valid justification.As a matter of fact, the right sentence is "Deputy chief constable has been fighting against crime since he was first appointed".

  • 1
    The original "sentence" in the OP's version would be okay as a newspaper headline.
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 15:16

To my ear, present perfect sounds more natural

Deputy chief constable has fought against crime since he was first appointed.

Past simple is used for actions that have already happened, but it sounds like here you would like to say the chief is still fighting crime.

Present simple would be used for something happening now or happens regularly. A time expression here would typically be used to denote the regularity

Deputy chief constable fights against crime every second Tuesday since he was first appointed.

Note (I can't leave this as a comment to Nils' answer): "since" can mean either because of or from some time. In this context, it is clear that the temporal sense is being used. The same contextual interpretation is required regardless of it's position in the sentence. Using 'ever since' limits the meaning to a temporal one, but if the context is clear or no emphasis is needed, "ever" can be omitted.


Over on the English Language and Usage (EL&U) StackExchange, we are coming to a consensus that a related construction is at least marginally acceptable. The link to that question is here, but, for completeness, I will now reproduce my full answer to the EL&U question.

(I should stress, however, that I agree with the other answers here that

*Deputy chief constable fights against crime since he was first appointed.

is not acceptable. One must use either has fought or has been fighting in this case. American English has a high tolerance for replacing the present perfect with the preterite, but the preterite fought would not work here either, even in American English.)

In the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), we find this attested example:

Since 2004 he is a partner and CTO of Secure Network, a firm specializing in…

As indicated in the question, one can find examples of this construction on web pages of organizations where there is little doubt the writer is a native English speaker. One example:

Sharlene S. Vichness is Founder and President of Language Directions, LLC. since 2005. (source)

Here is a relevant section of the CGEL (p. 697):

Since, irrespective of the type of complement, is largely restricted in BrE to occurrence with the perfect, as in [13i] [Jill has sold over 200 policies since she joined the company.]; it can, however, be used with simple tenses in the construction It is now nearly a year since he died. AmE allows preterites rather more widely: %Since you went home we redecorated our bedroom.

(Here % means 'grammatical in some dialect(s) only'.)

Also, the Macmillan Dictionary has this note in its entry for since (here):

When since is used for talking about time, the verb in the main clause of the sentence is usually in the present perfect or past perfect tense: It hasn’t rained since the end of July. He had been composing music since he was ten years old. Sometimes the present simple or past simple is used in the main clause [emphasis mine]: It’s over twenty years since we last met.

I should stress that this doesn't mean that there is a free-for-all on the usage of present simple with since. The marginal acceptability of the examples above seems to be constrained to the particular narrow context of biographical entries. For example, I don't think any native speaker would find the following acceptable: *Police Chief Smith fights crime since 1990. It would have to be has fought or has been fighting.

Having said all that, the corresponding construction with the present perfect (e.g. Since 2000 he has been a director at Acquavella Galleries, New York, which…) is much more common in COCA.

Also, in the American Heritage Dictionary entry for since, all the relevant examples use the present perfect; see here.

In conclusion, lots of people will agree with you that it is not acceptable. Nevertheless, it is not unheard of for native speakers to use this construction. So, I conclude that it is marginally acceptable.

(Note that related questions pop up in various forums from time to time, e.g. here, here, here…)


When you use since like that, it make it sounds like "He is doing X because he is doing Y"

You should either go with :

The deputy chief constable have been fighting against crime daily ever since he was first appointed.


Since Garry was first appointed as Deputy chief constable, he has been in charge of fighting crime.

  • 1
    This is nice. What about The dep. chief constable fights against crime *ever since he was appointed*?
    – Maulik V
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 8:54
  • Thanks you, Nils Munch, but I'm second Maulik V.You used perfect tense in both examples, is it possible to keep "since" in present simple structure?
    – DaBu
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 9:28

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