for ten years, since ten years ago

lyx1692

Senior Member
汉语
Hi,
Do the following sentences have the same meaning?
and, do they all sound idiomatic to the native speakers?

We have known each other since ten years ago.
We have known each other for ten years.
 
  • GMF1991

    Senior Member
    English (UK, Suffolk)
    The first is grammatically incorrect, you can say, "we've known each other since 2001" or something similar, but not "since 10 years ago".
    Another option is saying "we first met ten years ago"

    :)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    The first is grammatically incorrect...
    I disagree. "Ten years ago" is a specific moment in time, so I see no reason why it can't be used with "since". In particular, if you were to continue by explaining what happened then. E.g:

    We have known each other since ten years ago, when we first met at a conference.

    Not that that makes it very good style; inverting the two phrases would be better: We have known each other since we first met at a conference, ten years ago.
     

    temple09

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Technically, "Since ten years ago" is grammatically correct, since the word "ago" denotes a point in time, and "since" always needs to refer to a point (i.e. since 2003, since I was a baby, since the last time we spoke, etc).
    However, if you want to explain the length of time that you have known someone then it is more likely that one would use "for" - i.e. "I have known him for ten years", unless (as stated above) you want to clarify what happened ten years ago.
     

    lyx1692

    Senior Member
    汉语
    I disagree. "Ten years ago" is a specific moment in time, so I see no reason why it can't be used with "since". In particular, if you were to continue by explaining what happened then.
    Thanks, Keith Bradford.
    So, do you mean the first sentence is grammarly correct, but it's not used commonly?
    But, if I really want to use "10 years ago" to make this sentence, do you think "We knew each other 10 years ago" is simpler and better than " We have known each other since ten years ago"?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Thanks, Keith Bradford.
    So, do you mean the first sentence is grammarly grammatically correct, but it's not used commonly?
    It is possibly grammatically correct but is not universally accepted.
    But, if I really want to use "10 years ago" to make this sentence, do you think "We knew each other 10 years ago" is simpler and better than " We have known each other since ten years ago"?
    Yes, nobody will argue with the first one but, as Keith says, the latter becomes more acceptable if further information describing the time of the first meeting is added:

    " We have known each other since
    [the time,] ten years ago, when we were both hunting bears in Alaska." - here "ten years ago" is prefaced by an unstated, "the time," which would be correct.
     
    Last edited:

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But, if I really want to use "10 years ago" to make this sentence, do you think "We knew each other 10 years ago" is simpler and better than " We have known each other since ten years ago"?
    They are not the same.
    "We have known each other since ten years ago" means "We got to know each other ten years ago and we have known each other ever since".
    "We knew each other ten years ago" implies that we don't know each other now. English does not use "knew" for the meaning "made someone's acquaintance for the first time".
     
    Last edited:

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Most native English speakers will, I believe, regard 'We have known each other since ten years ago' as wrong or at least unidiomatic. It is not what people say to express how long they have known each other. We say either 'We have known each other for ten years' or 'We have known each other since 1993'.

    There is in my view a good reason to regard the suspect sentence as incorrect. The tense implication of 'since' is opposite to the tense implication of 'ago'. 'Since' creates a present context, whereas 'ago' creates a past context.

    As soundshift correctly points out:
    "We knew each other ten years ago" implies that we don't know each other now.
    That is what a past context does: it disconnects the past event (or state) from the present.

    'Since' does the opposite: it connects the past event to the present. 'He has been the mayor since 2007' tells us that he is still the mayor now. 'He was the mayor ten years ago' tells us that he is not the mayor now.

    It is therefore contradictory to try to bring the word 'ago' into a sentence which requires a present context.
    To express the proposition that we have known each other for a number of years and still do so now requires a verb with a present context and a sentence with a present context. 'We have known each other for ten years' does exactly that: and so does 'We have known each other since 1993'. However, it is incorrect to bring in a word which creates a past context, because that would imply a break between past and present.

    That break between past and present is seen in the sentence 'We knew each other ten years ago'. This implies we no longer know each other: we have moved apart emotionally, or have followed completely different paths in work and life, so that we are practically strangers today.
     
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