For vs Since: English “Woods Boy”

Look out for time phrases and when you use ‘for’ and ‘since’ with them in the article. Below there is an explanation of ‘for vs since’. German police have been baffled for 2 weeks over the case of the English speaking “Woods Boy”. A 17-year-old boy, called Ray, appeared in a Berlin police station and claimed that he had been living with his father in the woods for 5 years. The strange thing is that he only knows a few words of German, but he speaks fluent English. Berlin police have been interviewing the boy since September 5th and trying to establish his true identity. They have been comparing the names and dates in his story to Interpol records to see if they can match him to any missing person records, especially any British children who have been missing since 2006. The boy says that he began living in the Bayerischer woods in Northern Germany with his father after his mother died 5 years ago. All that the boy can tell them is that his mother’s name was Doreen and his father, Ryan. He claims that he cannot remember where his family originally came from. Since showing up at Berlin City Hall in the first week of September, Ray has been under the care of a youth emergency centre after explaining that his father had died in the forest two weeks earlier. He buried him in a shallow grave covered with stones and then set off for Berlin. His father had always told him that if anything happened, he should follow his compass north and he would eventually arrive in the German capital. Ray said that he had been walking for 2 weeks before he reached Berlin. This case mirrors the 2005 incident of “The Piano Man”, who was found on an English beach wearing a dripping wet suit and tie. He claimed he could only speak German and couldn’t remember anything about his life, but was mostly silent for almost half a year while investigations were being carried out. Despite Europe-wide appeals for months on end, nobody knew his identity. Eventually, he confessed that he was from Bavaria and had travelled to England on the Eurostar after he had lost his job in Paris. Despite media reports that he played classical piano recitals to nursing staff, the truth was that he would only play one note repeatedly for hours on end.


We use for or since to say how long something has happened for.


We use for when we give the length of time e.g. for 3 days, for 2 months, for 5 years


We use since when we give the beginning of the time e.g. since Thursday, since yesterday, since 2009, since last week, since July

For vs Since

For Since
I’ve known her for 10 years I’ve known her since 2001
I’ve had this phone for 6 months I’ve had this phone since April
I’ve been learning English for a very long time I’ve been learning English since 2000


Ago goes after a time expression.       It’s September 19th now. I came back to Berlin 3 weeks ago. I’ve lived here for over 2 years, since March 2009.   By the way, this is a perfect example of a news story that will appear in virtually every national newspaper around the world. You can use these articles to practise your English. First read the news in your own language and then from a British newspaper. The advantages of this are explained here in my earlier blog

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