She has lived in this city for her whole life.

For the above sentence, can I write,

She has lived in this city her whole life.

If yes, is there any difference between them?

  • Are you asking about a particular dialect? This strikes me as an Americanism, but yes you can (in the US at least) use either one. Both mean the same. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 2:35
  • thank you for your reply and do you know in what case that I have to apply the word 'for' before the phrase refers to the time.
    – Henry Wang
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 9:24
  • I think P.e. Dant's answer is the closest thing you'll find to an actual rule. It's informal, so you probably won't find it in a grammar book. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


Phrases which describe a duration of time, or end with less than, more than, or fewer than often omit the preposition for. This is a very common idiomatic usage in everyday speech, and not governed specifically by a rule of grammar.

For example:

She was only here (for) a week.
Don't watch television (for) more than two hours.
I've been waiting (for) less than a day.
I was only gone (for) an hour.
I slept there (for) fewer than three nights.

In your example, both versions have the same meaning. In formal writing and for clarity, it is probably best to include the "for."

Note: this question has a rich history here. This link may yield further insights. A question at ELU, found here, provides even more food for thought.

  • Thank you for your help, and I have one more question. As in this sentence ' I haven't heard from him for three years', can I leave out the word 'for'.
    – Henry Wang
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 3:25
  • @HenryWang No, in I haven't heard from him for three years, you must include the for because without it, the meaning of the sentence is not clear. There may be a better reason, and I'll look for it now,,, Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 3:33
  • Hi Sir, did you find a better reason for this case?
    – Henry Wang
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 10:28

Yes, in this particular case, you can leave out "for". There's really no difference between the two.

  • Thank you for your kind reply. I also want to know when the word 'for' is a must in this type of situation?
    – Henry Wang
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 1:45
  • Perhaps someone else better understands the exact English rules for this, but I believe this is really just an idiomatic usage of English. For example, read this page for related expressions and explanations: eslcafe.com/grammar/present_perfect_tense02.html Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 1:52

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