A single activity or a repetition?

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Hiden

Senior Member
japanese
When you hear someone say "I have been studying English for 2 days", which interpretation of the following two do you think is more normal?

(1) A single activity (it could be "one hour" or "two hours") is repeated with an interval of non-study from one day to the next.
(2) One single activity: The speaker has been studying all through the night.

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  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I really could not say. Surrounding context would no doubt shed some light on the most likely meaning, but on its own it is not enough detail to decipher the speaker's study pattern.
     
    I agree with Suzi. You need to make your sentence more specific.

    Examples:

    I have been studying for two days straight : I started studying two days ago and I haven't stopped yet.
    I have been taking English classes for only two days: I stared studying English two days ago, but I've also been doing other things with my time.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Depends on when you say it. If it's in the evening, I'd assume it meant you studied all day yesterday and all day today. Not 48 hours.
    If it's during the day, I'd assume you meant you studied yesterday and the day before, and that today is your third day of study, or that you are not studying today because you need a rest.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Thank you for your insight, suzi br-san, ShaggyVinny-san and Edinburgher-san. At least, when hearing someone say "I have been studying English for 2 days", both of the interpretations are possible, depending on the context, right?
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    Technically, yes.

    However, when someone says in a spoken conversation that they've been studying for 2 days, there should be many hints for you to pick up and understand precisely what they mean.

    If this person has bloodshot eyes and speaks with extreme exhaustion in their voice, you would be right to assume that's the only thing they've been doing for two days straight. If the sentence is written in conversation, however, it is impossible to know without more surrounding context.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    If they've been studying without a break for two days and the intervening night, they would be more likely to say 36 hours (or however long it was) than two days.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Thank you for your insight, ShaggyVinny-san and Edinburgher-san. I'm assuming that without any context, (1) is more likely, otherwise they might say "I've been studying English for two days non-stop" or "without a break," if they wanted to mean (2).

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