A long time ago

Conan Doyle

Senior Member
Vietnam, English
I've read the previous thread in WRC about this topic but it is not so clear to me, I want to have more opinions from you:

As far as I know that "A long (short) time ago" is also a time expressions, thus we can use "for a long time ago" or "since a long time ago" "for a long time" ,,etc.

They are both "a long time + ago" and "a long time ago" that is a time expression,

Is it correct?

For example:

I met him long ago.
I met him a long time ago.
I haven't met him for a long time ago.

Are they correct?

Thanks,
Conan
 
  • nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I've read the previous thread in WRC about this topic but it is not so clear to me, I want to have more opinions from you:

    As far as I know that "A long (short) time ago" is also a time expressions, thus we can use "for a long time ago" or "since a long time ago" "for a long time" ,,etc.

    They are both "a long time + ago" and "a long time ago" that is a time expression,

    Is it correct?

    For example:

    I met him long ago.
    I met him a long time ago.
    I haven't met him for a long time ago.

    Are they correct?

    Thanks,
    Conan
    I suppose your first two sentences are okay, but I don't like the third one.

    I haven't met him for some time/quite a long time now.
     

    Conan Doyle

    Senior Member
    Vietnam, English
    I suppose your first two sentences are okay, but I don't like the third one.

    I haven't met him for some time/quite a long time now.
    Thanks, I don't like it, either.

    Is "a long time ago" a time expression?

    Or just "a long time" going with "ago"??

    If it is a time expression, thus we can say ""for a long time ago", "since a long time ago".

    Can you give me more clear explanations?

    Thanks so much,
    Conan
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "Long ago" is a set expression:

    Long ago, there lived a king who had three sons...:tick:

    "A long time", however, is a phrase by itself, and when combined with "ago" would be used in the same way as a phrase nameing a more definite period of time:

    I was his neighbor a long time ago:tick:
    I was his neighbor twenty years ago:tick:

    I have not seen him in a long time:tick:
    I have not seen him in twenty years.:tick:

    BUT

    I have not seen him in twenty years ago.:cross:
    I have not seen him in a long time ago.:cross:
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Thanks, I don't like it, either.

    Is "a long time ago" a time expression?

    Or just "a long time" going with "ago"??

    If it is a time expression, thus we can say ""for a long time ago", "since a long time ago".

    Can you give me more clear explanations?

    Thanks so much,
    Conan
    Well, first of all, as far as I am concerned, "since" doesn't go with "ago".

    --I have been waiting for you since I woke up this morning.
    --I have been waiting for you since 7 AM.

    But never "I have been waiting for you since 3 hours ago" :eek:

    --I had the chance to meet him a long time ago.

    I am no expert on grammar matters, but that's how I would use "a long time ago".
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    haven't met him for a long time ago.
    This doesn't read. "A long time ago" represents a single point in time, albeit imprecise.

    "For a long time" (Note the for) represents a continuing period of time, albeit imprecise.

    It cannot be both.

    You can say, "I met her a long time ago and haven't seen her for some time," for example.
     

    Conan Doyle

    Senior Member
    Vietnam, English
    Well, first of all, as far as I am concerned, "since" doesn't go with "ago".

    --I have been waiting for you since I woke up this morning.
    --I have been waiting for you since 7 AM.

    But never "I have been waiting for you since 3 hours ago" :eek:

    --I had the chance to meet him a long time ago.

    I am no expert on grammar matters, but that's how I would use "a long time ago".
    Well, thanks for your ideas!

    Of course we also can say a period of time + ago liketwo months ago, one week ago, a long time ago ,,,, are definitely correct.

    I am only concern that "a long time ago" is a fixed time expression, is it right?

    I have not met him for a long time ago. :tick: (fixedtime expression)
    I met him for a long time ago. :tick: (period of time + ago)

    Are they correct even they are rarely used?

    Again, thanks,
    Conan
     

    Conan Doyle

    Senior Member
    Vietnam, English
    I can provide some more fixed time expressions as following:

    a short time ago:
    this means something was recent.


    ages and ages ago:
    this means something was not recent; it happened a long time ago.

    many moons ago :this means something was not recent; it happened a long time ago.

    They are all fixed time expressions and they are not simply a period of time going with ago,

    Correct me, if I am wrong,

    Thanks,
    Conan
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I have not met him for a long time ago. INCORRECT (fixedtime expression)
    I met him for a long time ago. INCORRECT (period of time + ago)

    Are they correct even they are rarely used?

    Again, thanks,
    Conan

    "A long time ago" simply means "(At) a point in time which was a long time in the past." It is not a set phrase in that you cannot say "a long time" without the "ago". You cannot say "I met him for a point in time which was a long time in the past" so you cannot say "I met him for a long time ago."

    Your two sentences are incorrect for the reasons sdgraham gave in a recent post:

    "A long time ago" represents a single point in time, albeit imprecise.

    "For a long time" (Note the
    for) represents a continuing period of time, albeit imprecise.

    It cannot be both.

    They are not just infrequently used; they are completely wrong.
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I can provide some more fixed time expressions as following:

    a short time ago:
    this means something was recent.


    ages and ages ago:
    this means something was not recent; it happened a long time ago.

    many moons ago :this means something was not recent; it happened a long time ago.
    Those phrases are all, in fact, periods of time with "ago", which means "in the past".

    You can use each period of time without "ago": I haven't seen him in many moons; We haven't been out to lunch for ages and ages; We've only known each other a short time.
     

    Conan Doyle

    Senior Member
    Vietnam, English
    Those phrases are all, in fact, periods of time with "ago", which means "in the past".

    You can use each period of time without "ago": I haven't seen him in many moons; We haven't been out to lunch for ages and ages; We've only known each other a short time.
    Are you sure those phrases are all, in fact, periods of time with "ago", which means "in the past".

    They are defined as time expressions here

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/flatmates/episode76/languagepoint.shtml

    Hope that any native persons can confirm these for me,

    Thanks so much,
    Conan
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Hi again Conan,

    I am a native speaker of English, and yes, they are definitely periods of time. I am absolutely certain of that.

    Many moons = a period of time covering several days (and nights)
    Many moons ago = a point in time which is several days (and nights) in the past.

    Ages and ages = a very long period of time
    Ages and ages ago = a point in time which is a very long period of time in the past.

    A short time = a brief period of time
    A short time ago = a point in time which a brief period of time in the past.

    Several other native speakers in this thread have pointed out that sentences such as " I met him for a long time ago" is incorrect and have explained why. Perhaps you need to go back and read those posts again, as you seem to be having repeated problems with the same issue. Either that or you simply believe we are all wrong! :D

    EDIT: Regarding the BBC link you provided, yes, they are all expressions of time, but that does not mean that they are "set expressions" and that the component parts of those phrases cannot be used in other ways or have meanings outside of that expression. The examples they give are good, and as you see they have not said "for a short time ago" or similar at any stage.
     

    Conan Doyle

    Senior Member
    Vietnam, English
    Hi again Conan,

    I am a native speaker of English, and yes, they are definitely periods of time. I am absolutely certain of that.

    Many moons = a period of time covering several days (and nights)
    Many moons ago = a point in time which is several days (and nights) in the past.

    Ages and ages = a very long period of time
    Ages and ages ago = a point in time which is a very long period of time in the past.

    A short time = a brief period of time
    A short time ago = a point in time which a brief period of time in the past.

    Several other native speakers in this thread have pointed out that sentences such as " I met him for a long time ago" is incorrect and have explained why. Perhaps you need to go back and read those posts again, as you seem to be having repeated problems with the same issue. Either that or you simply believe we are all wrong! :D

    EDIT: Regarding the BBC link you provided, yes, they are all expressions of time, but that does not mean that they are "set expressions" and that the component parts of those phrases cannot be used in other ways or have meanings outside of that expression. The examples they give are good, and as you see they have not said "for a short time ago" or similar at any stage.
    Thanks so much,

    The problem is that they don't clearly mention that, and some English books use it as fixed time expressions.

    Thanks again!
    Conan
     
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