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Is there any difference between using "for" and "in" here?

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anonymous

Is there any difference between using "for" and "in" here?

It's the negation that makes the difference. We typically use 'for' in affirmatives and 'in' in negations.

Note the tenses and the prepositions.

He's been saying that for years.
He hasn't said that in years.

Engineers have been working on the project for two years.
Engineers haven't worked on the project in two years.

Homeless people have been using that building for shelter for six months.
Homeless people haven't used that building for shelter in six months.

CJ

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Use "in".


I had a long conversation with my daughter yesterday. We talked for more than an hour.

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Comments  
CalifJimHe's been saying that for years.He hasn't said that in years.Engineers have been working on the project for two years.Engineers haven't worked on the project in two years.Homeless people have been using that building for shelter for six months.Homeless people haven't used that building for shelter in six months. CJ

Excuse me CalifJim, could you please answer my questions?

1. Why did you use the present perfect continuous with the affirmative in those sentences while you used the present perfect with the negative?

2. If I change the tenses as follows, will you confirm my answers?

A. He's said that for years.👍

B. He hasn't been saying that in years.👎

C. Engineers have worked on the project for two years.👍

D. Engineers haven't been working on the project in two years.👎.

3. Is it okay to use "for" in "B" and "D" because I've changed the tenses?

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AlpheccaStars

Use "in".


I had a long conversation with my daughter yesterday. We talked for more than an hour.

AlpheccaStarsWe talked for more than an hour.

Excuse me AlphecaStars, is it okay to use "for" if I change the sentence into negative as follows?

We didn't talk for more than an hour.

P.S. This information is new for me though I've been teaching English for six years and had studied English for four years at university.😊

Joseph A1. Why did you use the present perfect continuous with the affirmative in those sentences while you used the present perfect with the negative?

I wanted to illustrate the most typical uses. The negative is a claim that nothing happened during a given period of time. It is not usual to code "nothing happened" grammatically in terms of a tense that says that what was not happening was happening continuously. "nothing was happening continuously" is an unnecessary conceptualization of the situation.

Joseph A

2. If I change the tenses as follows, will you confirm my answers?

A. He's said that for years.👍

B. He hasn't been saying that in years.👎

C. Engineers have worked on the project for two years.👍

D. Engineers haven't been working on the project in two years.👎.

I can confirm that your answers are right.

Joseph A3. Is it okay to use "for" in "B" and "D" because I've changed the tenses?

My personal opinion is that it is pretty strange to do that, but I would not be surprised if I heard it. There are some cases where 'for' is used with negations in the present perfect continuous, but not many.

I looked for these kinds of sentences on fraze.it, and found more than 100 with "hasn't been" and "for years". Only two of them had the present perfect continuous tense:

Whatever it is, the Peace Corps hasn't been doing it for 57 years.
Newsweek hasn't been doing well for years.

In the others, there were constructions like "hasn't been able" or "hasn't been seen" rather than "hasn't been" + verb-ing.

CJ

CalifJimI wanted to illustrate the most typical uses. The negative is a claim that nothing happened during a given period of time. It is not usual to code "nothing happened" grammatically in terms of a tense that says that what was not happening was happening continuously. "nothing was happening continuously" is an unnecessary conceptualization of the situation.
CalifJimI can confirm that your answers are right.
CalifJimMy personal opinion is that it is pretty strange to do that, but I would not be surprised if I heard it. There are some cases where 'for' is used with negations in the present perfect continuous, but not many. I looked for these kinds of sentences on fraze.it, and found more than 100 with "hasn't been" and "for years". Only two of them had the present perfect continuous tense:
CalifJimIn the others, there were constructions like "hasn't been able" or "hasn't been seen" rather than "hasn't been" + verb-ing.
Thank you so much, CalifJim.👍
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Joseph AThank you so much, CalifJim.

By the way, Joseph A, I remember reading somewhere that the British are more comfortable using "for (an amount of time)" in these cases of negative sentences where Americans almost always use "in (an amount of time)", so that's another reason that you may see "for" where I recommended "in".

It turns out that this topic is more complicated than I originally thought.


You may be interested in this:

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/292339/i-havent-seen-her-for-in-two-days

In that discussion a separation is made thus:

Affirmatives: 'for' is grammatical; 'in' is not grammatical.
Negatives: 'for' and 'in' are both grammatical and have the same meaning.

Here's one of their examples:

1. Bill has taken a vacation for two years. (a very long vacation)
2. *Bill has taken a vacation in two years. (ungrammatical - not negative)
3. Bill hasn't taken a vacation for two years. (It has been two years since Bill has taken a vacation.)
4. Bill hasn't taken a vacation in two years. (Same meaning as the previous example.)

According to another source, 4 is supposedly preferred over 3 among American speakers.


Here's another web page on the subject. This one has a discussion of the use of 'for' and 'in' with the future tense, and that works differently from 'for' and 'in' with the perfect tenses.

https://thegrammarexchange.infopop.cc/topic/in-or-for-with-for-a-long-time

CJ

CalifJimBy the way, Joseph A, I remember reading somewhere that the British are more comfortable using "for (an amount of time)" in these cases of negative sentences where Americans almost always use "in (an amount of time)", so that's another reason that you may see "for" where I recommended "in".It turns out that this topic is more complicated than I originally thought.You may be interested in this:https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/292339/i-havent-seen-her-for-in-two-days In that discussion a separation is made thus:Affirmatives: 'for' is grammatical; 'in' is not grammatical.Negatives: 'for' and 'in' are both grammatical and have the same meaning.Here's one of their examples:1. Bill has taken a vacation for two years. (a very long vacation)2. *Bill has taken a vacation in two years. (ungrammatical - not negative)3. Bill hasn't taken a vacation for two years. (It has been two years since Bill has taken a vacation.)4. Bill hasn't taken a vacation in two years. (Same meaning as the previous example.)According to another source, 4 is supposedly preferred over 3 among American speakers.Here's another web page on the subject. This one has a discussion of the use of 'for' and 'in' with the future tense, and that works differently from 'for' and 'in' with the perfect tenses.https://thegrammarexchange.infopop.cc/topic/in-or-for-with-for-a-long-time

Thank you so much, CalifJim, for your help.👍

I read your reply and information well and benefited from it.