How to use “ago”

Word order: six weeks ago
Ago follows an expression of time.
I met her six weeks ago. (NOT … ago six weeks.)

a long time ago
An expression with ago refers to a finished time, and is normally used with a past tense, not a present perfect.
She phoned a few minutes ago. (NOT She has phoned... )
Where’s Mike? ~ He was working outside ten minutes ago.

The difference between ago and for:
Ago says how long before the present something happened; for (with a past
tense) says how long it lasted.

He died three years ago. (= three years before now)
(NOT He died for three years. OR .. for three years ago.)
He was ill for three years before he died.
(= His illness lasted three years.)

We use ago with a past tense and a time expression to ‘count back’ from the
present; to say how long before now something happened. We can use
before in the same way (with past perfect tense) to count back
from a past moment.

I met that woman in Scotland three years ago.
(NOT … three years before/before three years.)
When we got talking, I found out that I had been at school with her husband ten years before.
(NOT … ten years ago.)

Ago and before


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