When should I use for [a time] and when just [time].

  1. The examination lasted two hours.
  2. The heat will last for a few days.
  3. She was suggested waiting a few years.

Why are sentences 1 and 3 without for.

  • I don't think it would be wrong to say "the examination lasted for two hours". There isn't any grammatical reason for using "for" or not. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 9:12
  • 1
    In those examples you can use "for" or not. Either way is correct. I think it's just a matter of style and preference when deciding which way to use.
    – peacetype
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


‘For’ adds a subtle sense of ‘duration’ - the passing of the time itself.

With ‘for’, we have a sense of ‘all of those moments passing’ - rather than just skipping to the end of the denoted time.


  • ‘She waited for five years, til he got out of jail’.

This has the subtle sense of her waiting every moment of the five years. Time drips by slowly. Her entire 5 years was ‘spent’ - on waiting for him.

  • ‘She waited five years, til he got out of jail.’

Time does not drip by - we fast forward or skip to the five years later mark. She perhaps forgot about him, or saw somebody else for the 5 years, then whoops! He was back.

It is a very subtle difference. It might be used in creative writing, along with other cues, to tell us about how someone felt about time passing.

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