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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


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




I would like to ask which answer is correct to the question 'How long is the national day weekend?'

1) The national day weekend is four days. OR
2) The national day weekend is four days long. OR
3) The national day weekend lasts four days. OR
4) The national day weekend lasts for four days.

Thank you very much and looking forward to your reply.

Hi Wendy,

Answers 2, 3 and 4 all sound fine to me.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

May I ask a question? The sentence "The Green family has moved to France for 2 years." is this correct? Can verbs like move, go, join, leave etc be used in the perfect tense? Or I should say "The Green family has been to France for 2 years."?

Hello Christina Pu,

That sentence is correct and it means that they are living in France now and will return in two years (more or less).

You can used those verbs in the present perfect, in appropriate contexts, of course.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

The question was already put, but I think I didn't unterstand it completely: Do the prepositions "from.... to" and "from.... until" in any case have the exact same meaning? Or are they used differently, depending on wether we use them with dates, clock times, days, years, seasons of the year or centuries?


Hello Gaja,

When referring to time, the only difference is that 'from... until' is slightly more formal and rather less common in modern English; other than that the meaning is the same.

Note that 'from... to...' can also be used to refer to physical distance as well as time, while 'from... until...' can only be used for time.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk,
I'm Dai, i come from Viet Nam, I think BC is very good for learn English, I have learned English many time but now I speak a little English, when I was a student, i learned grammar so much, I think i don't need it, yeah I need discuss with BC, discuss with everyone who is speak English and i want to find out the news on the world. I learn English everyday, I listen to English podcast so much, I also watch the videos with Rob, Ashlie and Stephen( "Word on the street") but I'm not sure my English skills improved or not? can you help me.
Thank you!

Hello Dai,

It sounds like you're working very hard on your English - congratulations on your determination and effort!  It's impossible for me to tell how much progress you're making, of course, without knowing how good your English was and comparing it, but I can tell you that I've never known anyone to work as diligently as you seem to at their English and to not make progress, so I'm sure you are improving.

One thing I can tell from your post is that you are in the very broad category of 'intermediate' learners: not elementary, but not proficient yet.  One feature of this phase of learning is that intermediate learners often do not see their own progress.  At the beginning of the learning process everything is new and it is easy to see improvement: you can actually identify what is new ('Today I learnt twenty new words, and learned the rules for the present continuous').  However, at intermediate and above the progress is often of a different type: rather than learning new things we improve things that we already know.  We don't learn a new tense, but we start to make slightly fewer errors with it; we don't learn twenty new words, but we improve our pronunciation of them, or we begin to use more natural collocations with them, or use them in new phrases, or use them more often than before.  That kind of progress is very important, but it's sometimes hard to see and so the learner can feel that they are not making progress at all.  In fact, this has a name: we call it 'the intermediate plateau'.  This may be what you are feeling.  My advice is to keep going, keep challenging yourself, read more challenging texts (you can find all sorts of English-language newspapers and magazines online, of course, and these are great sources for reading and for broadening your vocabulary).  You might also visit the British Council's Take IELTS site to test yourself using the free practice tests there, and you can then test yourself again in a year's time and see how much progress you have made that way.

I hope that helps you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

hi everybody
according to your website, I should say: "how many people did came to your party? " but in "American English File 4 by Oxford" it is"how many people came to your part?" which one Is correct?

Hi maryaaa,

Could you please tell us where LearnEnglish states that "how many people did came to your party?" is correct? That is not correct, and so I'd like to fix that error as soon as possible.

"How many people came to your party?" is correct.

Thanks for your help.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team