英会話ワンポイントレッスン33. トーク・アベニュー新宿"Since" vs. "For"

There is often confusion among English learners about when to use "since" versus when to use "for". (i.e. "I have been studying English _____ 2009".)

In the previous sentence, which is appropriate?

Since is used used when an action began at a specific time, date, or period in your life. For example:
  • I have been working today since 6:00am.

  • James has been living in that house since it was first built.

  • They have been fighting the case in court since 2011.

Notice that "since" is used mostly with the grammar "have/has been ~ing", because it often is used to describe something which starts in the past and continues up to the present.

For is used to describe something which happens for a length of time, and to tell how long. For example:
  • Those two dogs have been barking for three hours!

  • Carl plans to travel to Moscow and study Russian for one year.

  • I just want to stay in my house and relax for the rest of the day.

Therefore, based on these examples, which should be used in the example at the top? "I have been studying English ________ 2009"? If you said "since", you are correct!


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英会話ワンポイントレッスン32. トーク・アヴェニュー新宿 "Tell" vs. "Say"

Tell and say are two words which are commonly confused. The functions and grammatical rules of these two words are quite different, however, and they are used in slightly different ways.

Say is a more basic verb, which means simply that words are being spoken. It is commonly used in books to report what someone said, and is commonly used in daily conversation in the same way. For example:

  1. "Did you hear what Carl said at the meeting yesterday?"

  2. "Please don't say anything about the court case."

  3. "Tom said that he didn't want to go, but Susan says that he really did."

Note that say is commonly used in the pattern: To say something to someone.

Tell gives the impression of transmitting information, or informing somebody about something. Tell does not simply imply words coming out of one's mouth. For example:

  1. "Somebody should tell Steve about the package we received for him."

  2. "I found out yesterday that I'm pregnant, but I haven't told anyone yet."

  3. "Please tell everyone that dinner will be served at 7:30."

In the above examples, a message is being given or information is being conveyed. This is why we use the word tell. Note that is often used in the pattern: to tell someone about something.

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英会話ワンポイントレッスン31.トーク・アベニュー新宿 "Used to"

Used to can have many very different meanings in the English language.

One meaning is that something used to be true, or it was true in the past but is not true today. For example, the sentence "I used to work for IBM" means that in the past I worked for IBM, but now I do not. Other examples of used to in this way:
  • I used to drive a motorcycle when I was in college.
  • Tiffany used to be very athletic before she injured her leg.
  • Do you remember the name of the restaurant we used to go to sometimes on sundays?

A second meaning for used to is the idea that you are accustomed to something, or that something has become bearable to you. It often appears following the verb get. In the sentence "Gary is getting used to the cold weather in Moscow", it suggests that while the cold weather used to bother him, it now doesn't bother him as much. Other examples include:
  • I have to get used to waking up at 5:00am for my new job.
  • I'm used to the hot weather but I can't stand the humidity.
  • Living in another country, it may take some time to get used to the culture and your new environment.

A third meaning is a passive construction of the verb "use", and means that something is used for the purpose of doing something. For example "A hammer is used to pound nails into wood." Or "A saw is used to cut wood". It tells the purpose of how they are used. More examples:
  • Shovels are used to dig holes in the ground.
  • A washing machine is used to clean clothes.

*Please note that in the first two usages, the pronunciation for used to often drops the "d" sound. For example "I used to (yoos to) work at IBM", or "I'm used to (yoos to) the cold". For the third example, the "d" is clearly said. For example, "A pencil is used to (yoosed to) write."

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