Apart from tenses, which indicate the time of action in sentences, there are other elements that deserve attention in this regard. They include since, for, between and from. Although they all look common or sound simple, they harbour some problem areas. Consider the following questions:
… how long have you been using the pen?
The Senator has been in detention … Wednesday. (for/ since/from/ between)
You can see me between 4 … 5 pm.
You would not appreciate how cunning the words are until you encounter them in a test like the above. Now, if you cannot easily pick the correct answer for each question, it means that, like many other people, you are likely to have been mixing them up in speech or writing.
Among the four elements we are considering, for and since are more like bloody rivals. They can really be confusing. To resolve this, simply bear in mind that while for tells the duration of an action or event, since indicates the beginning of it. In other words, while for tells you the time span, since indicates just the time it started:
Alex Ferguson managed Man U for 26 years.
Goodluck Jonathan ruled Nigeria for six years.
I have been working here for 10 years.
She oppressed her husband for five solid years.
Compare these to
Arsene Wenger has been managing Arsenal since 1996.
Goodluck Jonathan had been ruling Nigeria since the time his boss, the late Umaru Yar’adua, was sick.
I have been working here since 2008.
She has been oppressing her husband since 2013.
From the above examples, we can deduce that for works with the past tense:
I was there for three hours.
It also goes with present participle
She has taken care of the building for five months.
However, for does not accept outright present tense in the context under consideration:
Buhari is president for three years. (Wrong)
Buhari has been president for three years. (Correct)
When for is used in the present tense form, it can only make sense if it is intended to indicate a habit or the future:
I am always here for two days. (Always)
I am here for two days. (Futuristic, meaning I will be here for two days.)
Note that while since accommodates the past tense, the present participle and past participle, it also rejects the present tense.
I started watering (not wetting) the grass since 6am. (Correct)
I have been watering the grass since 6am. (Correct)
I water the grass since 6am. (Wrong)
Between this and that
There is nothing much to say on between and from, other than to emphasise on the prepositions they select. A common error is to use to with between. No, to goes with from while and goes with between:
I was there between Monday to Thursday. (Wrong)
I was there between Monday and Thursday. (Correct)
Between 1960 to 1999, Nigeria experienced several coup d’états. (Wrong)
Between 1960 and 1999, Nigeria experienced several coup d’états. (Correct)
The market is shut from 10 am and 12 pm on Wednesdays. (Wrong)
The market is shut from 10am to 12 pm on Wednesdays. (Correct)
Fashola governed Lagos from 2007 and 2015. (Wrong)
Fashola governed Lagos from 2007 to 2015. (Correct)
Answers to last week’s assignment
- I don’t like the — in which he spoke.
(a) mannerism (b) MANNER (c) manners mannerlessness
- “You have … to thank God,” the pastor told the woman.
(a) cost (b) CAUSE (c) course (d) coarse
- My concern is on the … of the programme.
(a) sustainance (b) sustaning (c) SUSTENANCE
Those who got all the answers right
Khaleed Tijani, Roland Olisa, Olaide Owomoyela, Egoma Ilokwu, Chima Nkemakolam, Kolawole Kareem, Akinyemi Taiwo, Emumwen Osazee, Eliom Iyo, Daramola Oloniruha, Nsebong Brown, Oladimeji Sunday, Mikairu G. Y., Peter Inyang, Gift Uturu, Ogunronbi Tolulope, Sunmonu Fasai, Fasasi Kehinde, Effiong Archibong, A. B. Adejumo, Onifade Abdu Rahmon, Bayo Adekoya, Rotimi Adeleye, Dania Aminat, Chukwudinka Alonge, Oladunni Akinyemi, Godwin Akpoghome, Emmanuel Odiete, Adegboyega Michael, Ifeanyichukwu Ibekwe, Rashedaat Zakariyau, Omirin Ayomipo, Oladipupo Mohammed, Dickson Ogala, A. T. Perepou, Chukwudi Iheanacho, IfeKristi Ayo-Obiremi, Adeniyi Gabriel, Leziga Mitee, Ademola Akingbade, Enyidiya Ekelemo and Josiah Abu.
Those who also did well
Chukwudi Uruakpa, Yakubu Suleman, Oludare Olufade, Emmanuel Oni, Asan Kafilat, Aremu Afolabi, Raheem Jimoh, Moshood Afolabi, Jamiu Basiru, Ayinla Sangodare, Adegoke Tiwalola, Bolarinwa Nurudeen, Babatunde Akinwale, Aransiola Oluwole, Foluke Ogunsanya, Bukola Gaji, Muogho Kingsley, Timothy Olufayo, Charles Ekereke, Hussainat Dawuda, Tolu Jacintho, Awonowo Adekunle, Tony Polac, Abduwakil Ashafa, Tope Erijiyan, Goodluck Henry, Tijani Amidu, Mayowa Olubiyi, Ustadh Faisol, Ajayi Christopher, Oladipo Isaac, Tayo Ajetunmobi, Mouka Johnny, Olatoye Emisu, Peace Pius, Ayanlola Toyin Oyewoga, Oluseyi, Akintunde I. O., Abiodun Oyeyemi, Adebayo Ajagun, Wahab Olanrewaju, Adele Olatunde, Olugbenga Adu, Ven Falodun, Nwaokolo Magaret, Adeleke Taiwo, Akin Gandonu, Saleh B. G., Gani Oladipo, Bernad Danladi, Ayomuyiwa Ayoade, Oyedare Segun, Olutomilola O. O., Anyaka Augusta, Fasooto Ademola, Adegbite Wasiu, Ibukun Emmanuel, Rotimi Jaiyeoba, Akinola Arowojolu, Wole Ogunsade, Adetokunboh Alonge, Akomolafe Tolulope, Ibrahim Abd’Majid, Barudeen A’hammed, Ojedokun Philip, Halimat Awonuga, Tunji Ayotunde, M. S. Adelugba, Blessing Aghojare, Kolapo Barakat, Gabriel Oput, Yekeen Mutiu, Ishola Oluwatoyin, Shola M., Tunde Egbedokun, Olayinka Adesina, Akbar Bello, Seyi Adewuyi, Ihekwoaba Ndidi, Olawaye Ayodeji, Ahmed O. A., Ishola Rachael, Nnamdi Chiegbo, Ephraim Odega, Kehinde Adeosun, Taiwo Adeosun, James Azibato, Amoo Adegoke, Tunde Anibaba, Olunye Olayinka, Tomi Joseph, Alonge Moses, Akinola Ilesanmi, Adewunmi Maria, Bamgboye Leonard, A. Apoesienwa, Titi Ajayi and Okesanya Omoadoni.
- … how long have you been using the pen?
(a) Since (b) For (c) Between (d) From
- The Senator has been in detention … Wednesday.
(a) for (b) since (c) on (d) between
- You can see me between 4 … 5 pm.
(a) or (b) to (c) and (d) for