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In a newspaper I read the following sentence:

  • We are waiting for the past few days with a hope.

Is the grammar correct ...

can we use the present continuous with temporal for and since?

English grammar books I have read say we do not.

Please could you clarify.

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  • Usually we use Present Perfect Tense and Pre Per Continuous tense with since and for. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't use any other tense with since/for.
    – Ram Pillai
    Jan 28, 2021 at 8:16

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"Do not use present continuous with for or since" is a simplified guideline rather than a rule. The core of the issue here is that whatever time reference you are using must be in agreement with your verbal tense. It just so happens that most usages of for or since provide a time reference that doesn't work with the present continuous, but it isn't impossible as in:

We are waiting for the time being

And colloquially you'll even see things that deviate a bit from standard grammar rules, such as:

We are waiting since noon

If we were being more strict about grammar we could use a number of different tenses depending on the exact context or intention.

Past continuous implies the waiting is now finished:

We were waiting since noon

The present perfect could suggest the waiting has only recently finished or even that it is still ongoing:

We have waited since noon

The present perfect continuous suggests the action is still ongoing and emphasizes the length of it:

We have been waiting since noon

To recap, what matters is for our time reference to be in agreement with the verbal tense used. However, in colloquial situations it is reasonably common to use the present continuous with time references that link to a past moment.

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  • Hello, Lucas. I'm not convinced about 'We were waiting since noon'; I'd use 'We were waiting from noon'. // Please check other questions on ELU to check on the default usage of the term 'tense', and at the Help Center to see recommended practice on giving answers (especially the inclusion of linked and attributed supporting references. Questions too basic to need such are almost always too basic for ELU.) // I like the 'We are waiting for the time being' counterexample. I suppose 'for the time being' is a separate idiom, and idioms usually complicate grammatical analyses. Jan 28, 2021 at 12:07
  • Perhaps it was my mistake to use 'for the time being' as an example but it is not the only case. Aside from similar constructions such as 'for now' and 'for the moment' the future usage of the present continuous also allows plenty of time periods to be introduced using for. 'We are waiting for one hour and then we are leaving' is an example. As for the matter of 'since' vs 'from' that's going to be mostly your personal preference there. Does ELU have a style guideline? I'd be happy to check it out if it helps with future answers. Jan 29, 2021 at 14:05

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