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


Average: 4.2 (6 votes)

Submitted by pandiego on Sat, 12/08/2023 - 01:51


I saw these sentences.
Anna is going to Scotland on holiday and I'm asking Anna like this.
"How long are you going for?" "Ten days."

Is it possible to say "How long are you going?" "(For) ten days."?
The reason I think so is I felt like "how long" can be "an adverb phrase". Of course "how long" can be also "a noun phrase" and actually it is used as a noun phrase in this sentence.
Is my idea incorrect grammatically?

Would you mind teaching me whether "How long are you going?" is correct and which sentence is more natural?

Hello pandiego,

It's certainly a correct question and in fact 'How long are you going?' is more common in my experience. I think it's more just a simple case of elision rather than a grammatical change, however.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by howtosay_ on Wed, 08/03/2023 - 13:44



Could you please help me with the following:

Could you please tell me if both options are possible:

1. He has been waiting to be served (in a cafe) for two hours.

2. He has been waiting for two hours to be served (in a cafe).

Thank you so much for your helpfulness and I'm very grateful for your answer to this post beforehand!!!

Hello howtosay_,

To be honest, I find both of these awkward, especially 2. Unless all three parts (to be served, in a café, for two hours) were really needed, I'd leave one of them out. I might say, for example, 'He's been waiting to be served for two hours'. It really depends a lot on the situation, especially how much the person I'm speaking to knows.

But if I had to choose one of those two, I suppose I'd choose 1. But I'm not sure I'd say that 2 is incorrect.

In general, when there is an adverbial of time ('for two hours') and an adverbial of place ('in a café') in the predicate, we put the place adverbial before the time adverbial. For example, we generally say 'I'm going to the beach tomorrow' and not *'I'm going tomorrow to the beach'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Profile picture for user OlaIELTS

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 13/07/2020 - 02:01

It's an helpful tip.
Profile picture for user amit_ck

Submitted by amit_ck on Fri, 28/12/2018 - 17:08

Hi, If someone will get holiday for 10 days, how can ask in proper way that “how many days/how long he got his holiday” and after passing his holiday “how long/how many days he had his holiday.”
Profile picture for user amit_ck

Submitted by amit_ck on Sat, 29/12/2018 - 04:40

In reply to by amit_ck

Sir you didn't answer my question. Could you please answer my question. Thank you.

Hello amit_ck,

Please be patient when waiting for answers to questions. We are a small team here at LearnEnglish and we receive many questions every day. While we try to answer as quicky as we can, sometimes it can take a few days. Posting messages asking us to respond more quickly only slows the process down.



The LearnEnglish Team

I'm really really sorry sir I couldn't understan. Thank you for helping me.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 30/12/2018 - 08:19

In reply to by amit_ck


Hi amit_ck,

I'm not sure I entirely understand the context here, but I'll try to answer.

I think the best option for the first question would be:

How long will the holiday last?


How long will the holiday be?


For the second question I would say:

How long did the/his/your holiday last?


How long was the/his/your holiday?



The LearnEnglish Team