I haven't met him <for/over/within/in/since> ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by twinklestar, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. twinklestar Senior Member

    Hi! I hope to learn what the differences among 'for', 'over', 'within', 'in', 'since' are.

    For exmple, I haven't met him __ 50 years. Which words shall I choose?

    I am totally confused.

    I hope native English speakers can give me a hand! Thanks in advance!
  2. audiolaik

    audiolaik Senior Member


    Although I am not a native speaker, I would suggest for. Something tells me that in is also a correct answer.
    When it comes to the rest of your options, since seems to be definitely wrong-of that I am sure. Of course I may be wrong but I would not use over or within.

    Edit: I would use over in a sentence like this:

    'I haven't met him for over 50 years.'

    Hope it helps!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  3. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    For is a sure solution because it is the preposition you'd use with the perfect tenses (have+ Past Perf.) when expressing a certain period of time (here: 50 years).

    Since, used often with the perfect tenses, introduces a time expression that marks the beginning of the period up to now (e.g. your sentence would be: I haven't met him since 1958)
    If there is a verb after it (being part of that time expression marking the beginning of the period), it is usually in the Simple Past: I haven't seen him since I last visited my grandmother.

    Over is usually used in descriptions of a past period with the meaning of "during".
    E.g. Many changes happened over the six months she was in charge of the company.
    (In the example above, in "for over 50 years" over indicates "more than" so it just modifies the period a little.)

    Within indicates "inside and not beyond" a period of time (so it can be used with simple tenses as well as with perfect ones).
    E.g. We recommend that this wine should be consumed within six months.
    Within the past few minutes reports have come in of a major earthquake in L.A.

    In has a lot of different uses in time expressions in the sense of:
    - during (the course of), before months (in April), years (in 2007), seasons (in summer), and other expressions referring to a particular period (e.g. in her old age), etc.
    - no more than (using no more time than...) e.g. Can you do it in a week?
    - before the end of a period e.g. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  4. twinklestar Senior Member

    audiolaik & Zsanna

    Big help. Thank you!

    In above context, Can I replace "for" with "in" or "within"? Please kindly also explain the reasons.

    Thanks in advance!:)
  5. PMCB Junior Member

    English, U.S.
    You should say "...some of the country's best farmland is facing its worst flooding in 50 years." I believe the idea is that you are comparing the flooding to other floods that have taken place in the space of a certain time period (here, the past 50 years).

    For and within do not work here.

    "...some of the country's best farmland is facing its worst flooding for 50 years" is not only extremely awkward, but implies that the flooding is going to last for 50 years.

    "...some of the country's best farmland is facing its worst flooding within 50 years" is also very awkward, especially since within, used in reference to a period of time, indicates that an action took place during that time period, but not before or after.

    It is much easier to tell you what the correct usage is than to find the words to explain the "why" behind it. I hope this helps a bit!
  6. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Zsanna's explanation of since, over, within, and in is very good and fits the way I use these prepositions.

    In the sample sentence, the verb met seems out of place. I would prefer to use seen:

    I haven't seen him for 50 years.
    I haven't seen him in 50 years.
    I haven't seen him since 50 years. :cross:
    I haven't seen him over 50 years. :cross:
    I haven't seen him within 50 years. :cross:

    Of the two choices that make sense here, I prefer in, because for creates a slight ambiguity, with the possible meaning "It is not true that I have seen him regularly over a 50-year period."

Share This Page