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I have been working here for 5 years.

or

I have been working here since last 5 years.

Does the word "last" have any effect on period of time, thereby changing the context to the point of using "since" instead of "for" just because of adding last to the sentence?

I have much difficulty dealing with the educationists related to English discipline. All this happens because I live in a country where English is used as a second language.

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2 Answers 2

No, "since" is never used with periods of time, always specific moments in time. Compare:

  • I have been working here for 5 years (months/weeks/days/hours...).
  • I have been working here since 2009 (January/Monday).

Adding "last" would not change the period of time into a specific moment in time - it would just highlight that you're talking about the last 5 years, as opposed to another 5 years (say in the 1990s).

Some other points:

  • "I have been working here for 5 years." would have the same meaning as "I have been working here for the last 5 years."
  • Note that you need to use "for the last", *"for last" would be incorrect.

Note that you can also say "I have been working here since last Monday" - in this case, the "last" does change the meaning of the sentence: if it's Friday now, "...since last Monday" means you've been working there for 2 weeks, while "...since Monday" means you've been working there for a week. In the case of "since + moment in time", you can generally assume that the lack of a "last" ("since Monday", "since November") means the speaker is talking about this Monday/November/etc, while adding "last" moves us back one week/year/etc.

Hope this helps! :)

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Quite a lucid explanation indeed. Thanks a lot :) –  Joji Shaikh Mar 29 at 7:24

In order to use 'since' a definite determinable time point must be expressed e.g. since 2009, since last December, since my mother died etc.

Thus you can say:

I have been working here since 2009. I have been working here since I left my previous job.

I have been working here for five years. I have been working here for the last 5 years.

But you cannot say

I have been working here since the last five years.

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Though the 'point' may have been marked with a broad brush (2009, or 20:27:30 on the 1st of July, 2009). –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 27 at 11:19
    
@EdwinAshworth Yes, the thing has to be determinable, albeit perhaps in a loose way. You could say 'He has been going there since the leaves came on the trees'. It all reminds me of my early life as a Trainee Accountant. I had to learn the definition of a 'Bill of Exchange'. To qualify as such it had to be payable 'at a fixed or determinable future date'. So one payable 'on the marriage of X' would not qualify, since it might never happen. But one written 'on the death of X' would, since it would have to happen at some point. But all that was about the future. 'Since' concerns the past! –  WS2 Mar 27 at 11:37
    
I take it they're still arguing over Enoch's estate. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 27 at 11:41

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