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How long

Level: beginner

We use for to say how long:

We have been waiting for twenty minutes.
They lived in Manchester for fifteen years.

We can also use a noun phrase without for:

Let’s go. We’ve been waiting nearly an hour.
I’ve worked here twenty years.

We use since with the present perfect or the past perfect to say when something started:

I have worked here since December.
They had been watching since seven o’clock in the morning.

How long 1

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We use from … to/until to say when something starts and finishes:

They stayed with us from Monday to Friday.
We will be on holiday from the sixteenth until the twentieth.

Be careful!

We can use to or until with a noun phrase:

My great-grandmother lived in Liverpool from 1940 to her death.
My great-grandmother lived in Liverpool from 1940 until her death.

But we can only use until with a clause

My great-grandmother lived in Liverpool from 1940 to she died.
My great-grandmother lived in Liverpool from 1940 until she died.

How long 2

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Comments

Hi, teachers,

I have a grammertical question.
How many years have you lived in Singapore?
For how many years have you lived in Singapore?

Which sentence is correct? What is the reason?
Thank you for your answer.

Hello Yasuhito Ota,

The first question is definitely more common than the second one. The second one isn't grammatically incorrect, though -- it's just a bit odd. Even more common than both is 'How long have you lived in Singapore?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I am wondering what's the difference between "how long" and "for how long" ?
Thank you.

Hello Sandichil,

When talking about time you can use either but 'how long' is more common; 'for how long' is rather formal in many contexts.

When talking about distance or length we use only 'how long'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Kirk! Could you point out the mistake in this sentence?
China has progressed stupendously since their inception into capitalism.

Hello Asgharkhan8,

'their' is plural, but the noun it refers to ('China') is singular -- this is incorrect. Use 'its' instead.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello
concerning this part:
We use from …to/until to say when something starts and finishes:

my question is when we use "to" and when we should use "until" and what is the diffrenece?

Hello Imenouaer,

When talking about time, there is no difference in meaning between 'from ... to' and 'from ... until'. There some words that we use 'until' with more than 'to', for example 'now', but there is still no difference in meaning. In isolation, i.e. without 'from ...' before them, the two words have different meanings – see the dictionary for more.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!

I have a doubt about writing and saying the date.

Today is 6th March 2017.
Why do I say "the" before "6th" and why don't I write it?

Thanks very much!

Hello euricoguerreiro,

That's a good question! As far as I know this is simply a matter of convention, and in American English, for example, 'the' is not usually used before the day. The Cambridge Dictionary has a useful page on writing and speaking dates that I'd recommend as a good reference for you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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