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.
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 5
    I'm not sure that will hold true for all eternity...
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 15:56
  • 3
    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.
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 16:13
  • I don't think your rule is correct. goodreads.com/quotes/…
    – user230
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 22:45
  • 2
    And this settles the matter once and for all?
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 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. Commented Feb 2, 2013 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. Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 8:18

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