Since is used to refer to a point of time in the past and for is used with time interval. However I've come across this phrase

I haven't seen you since ages.

Is this a correct usage of since since ages denotes an interval of time?

  • 3
    Here is the single reference thatshould answer your question. (The 'since ages' graph isn't quite a flat-line, perhaps because of say 'Since ages are a human preoccupation, ...') Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 9:59
  • 1
    This is one of the commonest mistakes European non-native English speakers make because of depuiis longtemps, seit viele Jahre etc. Surely the question should be migrated to English Learners.
    – David
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:14
  • @David this is about two and half years too old for migration
    – Helmar
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 22:21
  • @Helmar The curse of passing one's time on the iPhone.Assume it must be recent and Don't check the details. Oh well…
    – David
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 22:24

5 Answers 5


There are two different patterns mixing here: "I haven't seen you since last year" and "I haven't seen you for ages"

As evidenced by work in Conversation Analysis, people actually break their own line of thought quite a lot, so it's not uncommon for people to switch wordings mid-stream.

A novel writer might express it like so: "I haven't seen you since ... ages", to highlight the supposed realization by the speaker that "I don't know when I last saw her, so I can't finish this sentence." But in real speech, people do this kind of switching without skipping a beat.


Since ages is most unusual. There are no records for it in the British National Corpus and only two in the Corpus of Contemporary American English.

Where did you see or hear it? Was it produced by a native speaker?

  • no. not a native speaker.
    – ajay
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 10:23
  • 2
    Then that may explain it. Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 10:47

I think the correct phrase is for here. Although since could be used colloquially but it'd not be the correct way. Since is usually used when it refers to an exact or precise point in time. Ages is not an exact point in time. Here is an example.

I haven't seen you since last year.


"I haven't seen you since ages" is unnatural and not an idiomatic usage. 'For' is correct in your sentence.

As you mention, the general guideline is:

  • since + specific named time (including relative times like last week)
  • for + length of time


I haven't watched that movie since last year. (named time)
I haven't watched that movie for over 10 years. (length of time)

I haven't had sushi since last month. (named time)
I haven't had sushi for years. (length of time)

I haven't had sushi since I met you last. (named time)
I haven't had sushi for at least 6 months. (length of time)


I'm familiar with the "since ages" usage. To comment on Andreas's answer, I think the ellipsis is a nice theory, but in colloquial conversational contexts people really do sometimes say "I haven't seen you since ages" perhaps to emphasise the emotional content of the remark by being purposefully agrammmatical.

The usage is also familiar in variants of the phrase since ages long gone.

Besides, why do romantic minds become so enthralled about the case of the tepuis? After all, no matter how spectacular they are, they are no more 'islands in time' than ordinary islands in the seas which have been separated from their continents since ages long gone by.

From The Natural History of Hidden Animals, emphasis added.

Another similarly grand phrase is "since its days of origin"; and another very colloquial one is "since forever".

  • +1 for since forever
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 12:01

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