Difference between FOR and DURING

The difference between for and during is pretty confusing for many learners of English. However, despite semantic similarity, they are used in a different way. The problem seems to be that in other languages, like in Spanish, these two words (for and during) are translated as a same word. In the case of Spanish for and during are translated as durante, which unfortunately for learners is pretty similar to during.

🇪🇸 Leer en Español: Diferencia entre FOR y DURING

Difference between for and during in English

The use of for in English

The word for is a preposition which is usually followed by “a/an” or a number, plus a unit of time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc.). This preposition is used to express the duration of something.

I have lived in Granada for 10 years.

We have known each other for a couple of months.

The film lasted for 2 hours.

If we pay close attention, the preposition for answers always the question “How long…?”:

How long have you lived in Granada? (For) 10 years.

How long have you known each other? (For) a couple of months.

How long did the film last for? It lasted for 2 hours. 

In this way, it is relatively easy to identify when to use for.

The use of during in English

During is another English preposition which tells us when something happens in time. Besides, it is usually followed by a noun which is not necessarily a time unit. Let’s see some examples:

We couldn’t get any cigarettes during the war.

He died during the night. 

All the hotels are full during the summer season.

In the same way as forduring also answers a question, but not “How long…?”, but rather “When…?”:

When couldn’t you get any cigarettes? During the war.

When did he die? During the night.

When are all the hotels full? During the summer season.

In conclusion, according to the previous examples, the difference between for and during is that for tells us how long an action is, while during tells us when something happened. For this reason, if you ever need to know which one to use, you can ask yourself: Do I need to answer “How long…?” or “When…?”. It’s that simple! 

And if you have any questions about the difference between for and during, let me know in the comments section below!

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Luis @ KSE Academy

Luis @ KSE Academy

Luis Porras Wadley is the owner and director of KSE Academy, an English academy and official Cambridge Exam Preparation Centre based in Granada. As an English teacher, Luis has been preparing Cambridge candidates successfully for more than ten years. He is the author of some successful test preparation books, including Speaking First, Speaking CAE, Speaking CPE, Use of English C1 and The Ultimate B2 First Writing Guide.

2 comentarios en “Difference between FOR and DURING”

  1. Julio Quizhpe

    It has been useful for the reason that I have been confused FOR years. I usually practice my writing DURING on the weekend because I am relaxed.

    1. Luis @ KSE Academy

      Great, but let me correct that sentence a bit: «It has been useful BECAUSE/AS/SINCE I have been confused for years. I usually practice my writing DURING THE WEEKEND because I am relaxed.»

      – «for the reason that» sounds weird, forced.
      – You can’t say «during on», either «during the weekend» or «on/at the weekend» or «on/at/during weekends».

      Thanks a lot for your comment and glad you found it useful. 🙂

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