When? How long?

(A) When and how long?

In today’s class, we looked at how to talk about events in the past and things that we are still doing today.

(1) Events in the past

I played tennis

when I was at junior high school.

“when” + verb in past tense

from 1995 to 1998.

“from (Point 1) to (Point 2)”

for three years.

“for” + length of time

I went on a trip to Kyoto

when I was 15.

when” + verb in past tense

in 2001.

point in time

last year.

relative point in time

(2) Events or states that started some time in the past and are still continuing.

I have

been living

in Kumamoto

for three years.

for” + length of time



since” + point in time


I was at junior high school.

since” + verb in past tense

all my life.

don’t need “for” or “since”

We don’t usually use the “have been …ing” form with the verbs “to be” and “to have”

I have had a car since last year. I have been having a car since last year.

Exception: I have been having problems/I have had problems with my computer (ever) since I bought it (suggests repeated but not continuous problems).

PDF file: When and how long

(B) Other useful phrases: what you don’t/didn’t do

(i) I want to … but I (can’t because I) don’t have enough money/time/space. (NOW)
I want to go to Australia but I don’t have enough money.
I want to get/keep/have a dog but I can’t because I don’t have enough space.
(ii) I wanted to … but I (couldn’t because I) didn’t have enough money. (IN THE PAST)
I wanted to go abroad last summer but I didn’t have enough money.
I wanted to be in the athletics team at school but I couldn’t because I wasn’t a fast enough runner.

(C) Write your autobiography (the story of your life!) in the comments section!