1. I have lived here all my life.
  2. I have lived here for all my life.

Yes, 1 is perfectly 'standard' English, but I wonder why one cannot add for to 1 before 'all my life'?

Is there a grammatical rule governing this matter? If so, can anybody explain such rule?

I'm asking because in my language, as far as I know, both 1 and 2 are acceptable, with and without for (per).

  • Although you may hear such a "for" inserted in casual, everyday speech, it shouldn't really be there. More about this rule can be found HERE. – J.R. Feb 1 '13 at 18:33

I think you just have to accept that when all comes before words that express any length of time, it cannot be preceded by for.

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    I'm not sure that will hold true for all eternity... – Cerberus Feb 1 '13 at 15:56
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    Unless the for is not starting a prepositional phrase (as in, "That is what I've been hoping for all my life," or, "This is what I've been waiting for all summer"). – J.R. Feb 1 '13 at 16:13
  • I don't think your rule is correct. goodreads.com/quotes/… – snailplane Feb 1 '13 at 22:45
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    And this settles the matter once and for all? – WendiKidd Feb 2 '13 at 1:45
  • @snailplane. Oh, I don’t make rules, but well spotted anyway. I think the difference is that the Amy Tan quotation, with its use of the past tense in the main clause, refers to a particular time in the past. A clause like I have lived here all my life uses the present perfect construction, and refers to time up until now. – Barrie England Feb 2 '13 at 8:17

I agree with Barrie England's reply, I just wanted to add some reference to go by, but the only text I could find where this rule is referred to clearly is Michael Swan's Practical English Usage, 3rd edition, section 208, where he states

... And for is not usually used before all.

  • 1
    And my reference, which I should have shown, is ‘An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage’ by Leech and others: ‘We omit for in front of all. – Barrie England Feb 2 '13 at 8:18

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