Since vs Ago: Difference and Comparison

“Since” refers to a specific point in time when something began and is still ongoing, emphasizing the duration or continuation of an action or state. For example, “I have been studying English since 2015.” “Ago” denotes a point in the past relative to the present moment, highlighting the time that has passed since the occurrence. For instance, “I graduated from university five years ago.”

Key Takeaways

  1. “Since” indicates a point in time from which an action or state has continued up to the present, while “ago” refers to a specific period that has passed before the present moment.
  2. “Since” is followed by a specific point in time (e.g., a date, a year, or a named event), whereas “ago” follows a duration of time (e.g., hours, days, or years).
  3. “Since” is used with present perfect and past perfect verb forms to show a connection to the present, while “ago” is used with simple past verb forms to describe past events.

Since vs Ago

The term ‘since’ is used to define the time in which past and present are connected. For example, John has been reading since morning. This shows that John has started reading in the morning which is past time and still reading which is present. The term ‘ago’ defines the time which has passed. For example, he worked there 2 years ago. This shows that a person worked in a particular company in the past for 2 years.

Since vs Ago


Comparison Table

FunctionIntroduces a starting point and emphasizes the duration from that point to the present.Indicates a point in the past relative to the present moment.
Position in sentencePlaced at the beginning of a clause or sentence.Placed at the end of a clause or sentence, after a time expression or a verb phrase.
ExamplesSince I moved here, I’ve made many new friends. <br> * We haven’t seen each other since last summer.* I haven’t seen her ago two weeks. (Awkward) <br> * We last spoke two weeks ago.
Time expressionsOften used with specific time expressions like “yesterday,” “last week,” “2020,” etc.Can be used with specific or non-specific time expressions.
FocusFocuses on the ongoing action or state that began at the starting point.Focuses on the elapsed time between the past point and the present.
FormalityBoth “since” and “ago” can be used in formal and informal contexts, although “since” might be slightly more formal.


When to Use the Word Since?

Definition and Usage

The word “since” is a versatile English term with multiple uses, primarily functioning as a preposition, conjunction, or adverb. Its usage varies depending on context, but it denotes a point in time from which an action or state began and continues to the present.

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1. Time Reference:

“Since” is commonly used to indicate the starting point of an action, event, or state, emphasizing its continuity up to the present moment. It introduces a specific time or date when something began and still persists. For example:

  • “I have been working at this company since January.”
  • “She has lived in New York since 2010.”

2. Cause and Effect:

In some contexts, “since” can also express causality, indicating the reason or cause behind a certain action or situation. This usage appears in conjunction with clauses, highlighting the relationship between events. For instance:

  • “Since she was tired, she decided to go to bed early.”
  • “He couldn’t attend the meeting since he had a prior commitment.”

3. As a Conjunction:

As a conjunction, “since” is used to connect two clauses, especially in complex sentences where the second clause explains or provides additional information about the first. It can indicate a time relationship, a causal link, or reasoning. Examples include:

  • Since you’re here, would you like to join us for dinner?
  • “I haven’t seen her since she moved to London.”

4. Contrast with “For”:

It’s important to distinguish between “since” and “for.” While “since” indicates the starting point of an action or state that continues to the present, “for” expresses the duration of that action or state. For example:

  • “I have been studying English since 2015.” (Starting point)
  • “I have been studying English for five years.” (Duration)

When to Use the Word Ago?

Definition and Usage

“Ago” is an English adverb primarily used to denote a period of time that has passed before the present moment. It specifies the time that elapsed since a particular event or action occurred, emphasizing the distance between the past event and the current time.

1. Time Measurement:

The word “ago” is commonly employed to measure the duration between a past event and the present moment. It is used with expressions of time such as days, weeks, months, or years to indicate how long ago an action or event took place. Examples include:

  • “She left the office twenty minutes ago.”
  • “They got married two years ago.”
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2. Past Reference:

“Ago” serves as a marker of past reference, indicating the time elapsed since an action or event occurred. It helps establish the temporal context of a situation, emphasizing the time frame relative to the present. For instance:

  • “The project deadline was three days ago.”
  • “I saw him at the party a long time ago.”

3. Narrative Tense:

In storytelling or recounting events, “ago” is frequently used to situate actions or occurrences in the past, providing a clear chronological sequence of events. It aids in structuring the narrative by indicating when specific events occurred relative to the present or to other events. Examples include:

  • “Many years ago, in a faraway land…”
  • “She received the letter a month ago, but she didn’t open it until today.”

4. Contrast with “Since”:

It’s crucial to differentiate between “ago” and “since.” While “ago” refers to a period of time elapsed from a past event to the present moment, “since” denotes the starting point of an action or state that continues to the present. For example:

  • “He left the company three years ago.” (Elapsed time)
  • “She has worked at the company since 2019.” (Starting point)

Main Differences Between Since and Ago

  • Starting Point vs. Elapsed Time:
    • “Since” indicates the starting point of an action or state that continues to the present.
    • “Ago” specifies the amount of time that has passed since a past event occurred.
  • Temporal Reference:
    • “Since” emphasizes the duration or continuity of an action or state from a specific point in time until now.
    • “Ago” focuses on the time elapsed since an event took place, relative to the present moment.
  • Usage in Sentences:
    • “Since” is used to introduce a time frame or cause-effect relationship in sentences.
    • “Ago” is employed to measure the distance between past events and the present, or to provide temporal context in narratives.
  • Temporal Adverb vs. Preposition/Conjunction:
    • “Since” functions as a temporal adverb, preposition, or conjunction, depending on its usage in a sentence.
    • “Ago” primarily functions as a temporal adverb, specifying the time elapsed since a past event.
  • Direction of Time:
    • “Since” looks forward from a specific point in time to the present moment.
    • “Ago” looks backward from the present moment to a past event.
Difference Between Since and Ago

Last Updated : 02 March, 2024

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24 thoughts on “Since vs Ago: Difference and Comparison”

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