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

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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.”

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

In reply to by amit_ck

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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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm really really sorry sir I couldn't understan. Thank you for helping me.

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

In reply to by amit_ck

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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?

or

How long will the holiday be?

 

For the second question I would say:

How long did the/his/your holiday last?

or

How long was the/his/your holiday?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by YSATO201602 on Fri, 24/11/2017 - 05:53

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Hello Teachers, I just want to check a little grammar. When someone says: "How long has she/he been practicing architecture?" is it grammatically correct to answer like this? "She/He has been practicing architecture since 1984" (instead of saying "for more than 30 years") I personally feel that the answer should be "for + period" to the question of "how long...?" and "since + a certain past time" to the one of "since when...?". But I was not sure when asked by some students in my class and it would be grateful if I could receive some reviews here. Best Regards YSATO201602

Hello YSATO201602,

A question with 'How long' implies for rather than since, but that does not mean that 'since' is incorrect as it provides the same information. I would say that 'for' is the expected and most likely answer but that 'since' is not wrong.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by syedarslan619 on Sun, 10/09/2017 - 00:57

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Is the How Long and How far is same? I am very confused about it I wrote about How long from here xxxxxx but still, i am confused could any one please guide me?

Hello syedarslan619,

'how long' usually refers to 1) an amount or period of time or 2) a measurement. For example, 'How long have you lived in Islamabad?' is asking about a period of time and 'How long is that table?' is asking about a measurement.

'how far' is usually used to refer to a distance. For example, 'How far is it from here to Islamabad?' We could answer '650km'. Sometimes we refer to distances by speaking of time ('10 hours by car'), but really 'far' is asking about a distance measurement.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yasuhito Ota on Sun, 11/06/2017 - 08:47

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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

Submitted by Sandichil on Tue, 30/05/2017 - 07:41

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

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 31/05/2017 - 08:34

In reply to by Sandichil

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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

Submitted by Asgharkhan8 on Sun, 30/04/2017 - 14:20

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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

Submitted by Imenouaer on Mon, 06/03/2017 - 11:16

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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?

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 06/03/2017 - 13:38

In reply to by Imenouaer

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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

Submitted by euricoguerreiro on Mon, 06/03/2017 - 08:48

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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!

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 06/03/2017 - 14:02

In reply to by euricoguerreiro

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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

Submitted by Wendy Yeo on Tue, 19/05/2015 - 14:32

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Hi, 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.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 20/05/2015 - 10:18

In reply to by Wendy Yeo

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Hi Wendy,

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

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Christina Pu on Sun, 26/10/2014 - 14:48

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Hello 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."?

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 26/10/2014 - 22:10

In reply to by Christina Pu

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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,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gaja1412 on Sun, 26/10/2014 - 10:19

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Hello! 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? Greetings, Gaja

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 26/10/2014 - 21:44

In reply to by Gaja1412

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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,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dainq on Sat, 21/12/2013 - 14:19

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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,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by maryaaa on Fri, 20/12/2013 - 15:55

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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,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kira300 on Wed, 20/11/2013 - 12:01

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hello

I would know what is difference between from..to and from...untel in following sentences:

I worked in Italy from 1995 to 1998

the meeting lasted from 2 o'clock until half past four

can we tel: I worked in Italy fom 1995 untel 1998.

thinks.

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 21/11/2013 - 07:25

In reply to by kira300

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Hi kira300,

In the sentences you wrote, to and until have the same exact meaning (notice the spelling of until). Just so you know, the word till also means the same thing as until.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by siti juenah on Thu, 12/04/2012 - 09:58

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it's really good forum  so far ! (is it the correct sentence?)

 

Submitted by pompeii on Fri, 10/02/2012 - 19:22

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Hello,

Can you tell me what the main difference is in meaning or use between the following expressions : 'so far' and 'until now' (or 'up to now')? Can you give me some examples of what they mean?

Many thanks.

 

Submitted by gopisetty nagaraju on Tue, 10/01/2012 - 10:06

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very good

Submitted by piko on Sun, 08/01/2012 - 22:59

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Hi,

Can we write "We have been waiting since fifteen minutes ago" instead of "We have been waiting for the past fifteen minutes". The first statement isn't even making sense in my own head as I have never heard it this way before but I just wanted to know if it is correct or not. And if not, then why?

Thanks.