I started reading at 9:00AM and finished at 10:00AM. The time is now 11:00 AM.

Which is correct to say?

  1. I have read the book since 9:00 AM.
  2. I have read the book since 10:00 AM.
  3. I had read the book since 9:00 AM.
  4. I had read the book since 10:00 AM.
  • 1
    Is this a question from a textbook? I ask because we have been getting a lot of question like this lately; please see How to describe duration of and duration since a finished past event
    – stangdon
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:30
  • no , I am self-studying English. I asked those questions because I want to systematically to learn tense and their function . the tense knowledge of textbook can not remove my all conundrum .
    – zn2015
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:47
  • I've edited the question to clarify but I honestly don't think that it's difficult to tell what the OP is trying to ask. Seems like a pretty straightforward question.
    – Catija
    Feb 5, 2016 at 1:29
  • @Catija: I think the "lack of clarity" comes mostly because the user's frequent and highly similar questions confuse us as to what is really the crucial issue; it doesn't seem like they're getting at the real heart of the problem very well at all. Feb 5, 2016 at 1:51
  • @Nat We can be mystified about what really might underlie any question on the site. The question as it stands is clear. To my knowledge, there's no policy or convention limiting the number of questions that can be asked. If there are duplicates, we have a corresponding reason to cite. Feb 5, 2016 at 7:09

2 Answers 2


None of the above options convey the fact that you read a book starting at 9 and stopped at 10 and it is now 11.

When we set a finished past event or state at a particular time in the past, we normally use the past simple:

I read from 9am to 10am.

When such an event or state was sustained over an extended time period, we may alternatively use the past continuous:

I was reading from 9am to 10am.

If something else "interrupted" such an extended activity or state, we use the past continuous:

I was reading this morning when I felt a ghost pass by my chair.

We can also use the following language:

I was reading the/a book from 9 until/to 10.

I read the/a book for an hour [this morning].

I read from 9 until/to 10.

These are merely options, not an exhaustive list of possibilities.

None of your options say this because they don't give a duration.

  1. I have read the book since 9:00 AM.

This form is wrong, it could possibly be used to talk about a book that you read regularly since childhood:

I have read the book every year since I was little.

This means that you read the book once per year and have done since you were a child.

The more correct version for your usage would be:

I have been reading the book since 9 am.

But this implies that you are still reading it. There's no end to the event.

  1. I have read the book since 10:00 AM.

This is wrong for the same reasons as version 1 with the added issue that it's not true. You stopped reading at 10 am.

  1. I had read the book since 9:00 AM.

This is a very odd construction for this use. While it does imply that you are no longer reading the book, it again works better with a different use:

I had read the book every year when I was little.

In this case, you're saying that, as a child you read the book annually but do not anymore.... and "had" is optional.

A more correct version would be

I had been reading the book since 9 am.

This says that you are no longer reading but gives no indication of when you stopped, so it's better than 1 or 2 but still doesn't give all of the information.

  1. I had read the book since 10:00 AM.

This has the same issues of 3 and 2 above... it is an odd phrasing and it's untrue because it means you started reading at 10 am. In this case, you could use "until" instead of since and get some improvement:

I had been reading the book until 10 am.

This is an acceptable construction similar to the ones at the top but it does not say when you started reading.

[This answer is a Catija/Jim Reynolds production]


None of these.

The most common way to say this would be, "I was reading the book from 9:00 am to 10:00 am". If you don't need to say when you finished, you could say, "I was reading the book at 9:00 am" or "I started reading the book at 9:00 am". Or if you want to indicate that you finished reading -- not necessarily read the entire book, but you are not reading it any more -- you could say, "I read the book at 9:00 am".

Using "since" indicates that you are still doing it. If you said, "I have been reading the book since 9:00 am", we would understand that to mean that you started reading at 9:00, and you are still reading now.

  • The continuous form you mention in your last paragraph is used instead of the simple form, but why the simple form is not correct since a point of time was given?
    – Schwale
    Feb 5, 2016 at 13:30
  • @Ustanak It's just that you can't use "since" with simple past. "Since" is only used with a continuous tense.
    – Jay
    Feb 5, 2016 at 13:59
  • I'm talking about the use of since in I have read the book since 9:00 am.
    – Schwale
    Feb 5, 2016 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Ustanak That's simply not how people say it. "Since" can be used to indicate the beginning of a continuous time period. "I have been reading since ..." It can be used with a present perfect tense to indicate the beginning of a period, like "I have been to Paris only once since 1980". But it just isn't used with a perfect to say when you started like you're trying to do. Sorry if that doesn't make sense, but it's just not how the word is used.
    – Jay
    Feb 5, 2016 at 14:11
  • 1
    Thank you. It's good to have feedback from a native speaker.
    – Schwale
    Feb 5, 2016 at 14:16

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