the difference between words: ago and back

One of my readers asked me what the difference was between “ago” and “back”, so that’s what I’ll write about today.

We use “ago” to talk about something that happened a certain amount of time before the present moment. For example:

I went to high school just over 20 years ago.

The meeting started five minutes ago.

The last time I went to the movies was six months ago.

We use “back” to talk about a certain period in the past. For example:

Back in the 19th century, people used to ride in carriages instead of cars.

Back in the 1980s, leg warmers were very popular.

Back in my childhood, I used to play a lot of video games. I don’t do that anymore though.

When I was young, we didn’t have computers. We had to write everything on a typewriter back then.

Some people also use “back” in the same way as “ago”. For example:

I worked for ABC Company about ten years back.

I went to France on vacation six years back.

It’s important to note that this way of using “back” is NOT common and that the majority of people will use “ago” instead. Also, people usually only use this with the word “years”. Frankly, I do not recommend anyone to use “back” in this way, but you might hear it sometimes in an American movie.


1 Comment »

  1. Anita Tuteja Said:

    I would like to subscribe to this. But I would first want to know whether you teach the British English or American?

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