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Can I start a sentence with "For the last ten years...?" and do I need to put a comma after that. For instance, "For the last ten years, I have been doing my PhD". I am grateful for your help.

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    I think it's better to say for the past ten years... – Alejandro Jul 9 '16 at 21:01
  • I agree with @Ustanak, i.e., "For the past ten years, I have been doing my PhD." – Benjamin Harman Jul 9 '16 at 21:24
  • 'For the preceding decade, I've been undertaking my PhD.' – user180089 Jul 9 '16 at 21:57
  • 'The whole of these past ten years has been spent on my PhD.' – user180089 Jul 9 '16 at 22:07
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    Just don't end that sentence with student. – Jim Jul 9 '16 at 23:34
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Yes you can, but a comma is optional.

  • For the last ten years, I have been doing my PhD.

"For the last ten years" is a introductory prepositional phrase, and "I have been doing my PhD" is an independent clause. A comma is optional to separate introductory prepositional phrase from the rest of the sentence. In this case, I would use a comma, because the introductory phrase isn't required for the sentence and is there to add detail to it.

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    I'm reasonably sure that "For the last ten years" is an introductory prepositional phrase , not a clause. – Cascabel Jul 10 '16 at 1:40
  • PS: I didn't DV you. I almost never DV unless the Q or A is absolutely awful. – Cascabel Jul 10 '16 at 1:53
  • @Gandalf So the comma could actually be left out. I will edit. – 54 69 6D Jul 13 '16 at 22:34
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You don't need a comma if there is no confusion and the sentence is short. "For the past ten years I've been ill."

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    As the other answer suggests, I think you are supposed to have a comma. However, it is common to see native speakers omit the comma in their writings... but it's common to see native speakers butcher punctuation in all manner of ways. – Pierce Darragh Jul 10 '16 at 0:22
  • -1 The usage of a comma here is nothing to do with either confusion or length of sentence: it is to do with separating the clauses for ease of reading and immediate understanding, as indicated in the other example. – TrevorD Jul 10 '16 at 0:40
  • As indicated by @Gandalf, because the independent phrase is short you can drop the comma. If the independent phrase was long or complicated for some reason, the comma helps. As it stands, putting a pause between "For the last ten years" and "I have been working on my PhD" would be awkward if you were to speak it aloud and is somewhat awkward written. – Nathaniel Ford Jul 10 '16 at 1:46

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