I have this sentence:

Samantha lived in Berlin for more than two years. In fact, she was living there when the Berlin Wall came down.

I think because there is "for more than two years" in the sentence it should be: "Samantha has lived".

Why is this sentence used in the simple past?

  • 3
    Because it's telling you the length of time Samantha lived in Berlin and saying she no longer lives there. If you said "Samantha has lived" that would mean she was still living there as it implies ongoing action, and this obviously isn't the case. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 15:44
  • @JohnClifford how do you know that she no longer lives there
    – doodle
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 15:46
  • 3
    Because the sentence uses the past tense. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 15:47
  • 1
    You can use for more than x years with either the simple past or present perfect. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 15:48
  • @AlanCarmack: ...or the future, or the past perfect, or the simple present... There is no reason to expect "for" to be used only with specific tenses. There are some cases where it would be unusual, but I can't think of any tenses with which it could never be correct. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


This sentence is in the simple past because the actions described are entirely in the past: they began and ended in the past. If Samantha was in Berlin from 1988 - 1990, then we would say she lived there during that time.

We would use the present perfect, has lived, to relate a past event to the present time. For example, if Samantha still lived there, we might say she has lived there for many years.

Simple Past
Present Perfect

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