About "Two and a half months ___ too long, I think."

Discussion in 'English Only' started by nicole0087, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. nicole0087 Member

    chinese
    Hello, everyone,
    Ihave a question here. Which of the sentence as follows is correct:
    "Two and a half months is too long, I think." or
    "Two and a half months will be too long, I think."
    And why?
    Thank you.
     
  2. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK
    They are both correct.

    The first is in the present tense, and probably refers to something that lasts for two and a half months now, and which you think is too long.

    The second is in the future tense and can be used to talk about something that will last for two and a half months when it happens in the future.
     
  3. nicole0087 Member

    chinese
    Thank you Murphy.
    So which one I can use should be determined by the context, right?
     
  4. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK
    Right:thumbsup:
     
  5. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    It might be just worth adding that both are used in future senses. If someone you like proposes to board an unpleasant dog with you, either might be used, but '2 and a half months is too long' is less emphatic than '2 and a half months will be too long'. Having said that the future also suggests that you might well be open (albeit perhaps reluctantly) to the idea of boarding the dog, but for a shorter time - the present tense is vaguer, less emphatic, more general. You might say is to be deliberately vague. Many English people don't like saying a direct no without some sort of softening preamble. Either might be followed by a statement that five minutes will be too long, but if I owned the dog I'd be more hopeful that they would take the dog for a little time if someone used the future.
     
  6. nicole0087 Member

    chinese
    Thank you both!
    So, can I draw a conclusion that "...will be" is most likely used to refuse something I don't like in a soften way, and "...is" is not?
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Two and a half months will be too long.
    Whatever it is, it is definitely going to last two and a half months.

    Two and a half months is too long.
    This could be in the same context as the first sentence, but could also be said while we are still discussing how long it might be, or possible whether or not do commit to this thing that takes two and a half months.
     
  8. nicole0087 Member

    chinese
    Thanks!
    But it seems like that what Thomas Tompion said and what Panjandrumsaid are different. I'm confusing…… It's hard to grasp the nuance between sentence and sentence >_<
     
  9. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Hi, Nicole, Thanks for pointing out the clash between what Panjandrum and I have said. I think the point at issue is Panjandrum's statement that '2 and a half months will be too long' means that whatever it is will definitely last 2 and a half months, while I talk as though the length of time is still undetermined.
    You are right to say that it's hard to grasp the nuance, because you've asked a subtle question.
    I think Panjandrum is right if we are talking about formal language, and I ought to have thought of the point, and may have misled you.
    Try this:
    In formal language (as Panjandrum says), two and a half months will be too long means that whatever it is will last two and a half months, and that is too long; if it's still up for discussion (as in my case of the tiresome dog) you should say two and a half months would be too long. You say two and a half months is too long when you wish to express that you've tried it, probably often, and found that two and a half months is too long.
    In informal language, many English people would use the forms I suggested in my earlier post: both 'will' and 'is' can be used to suggest that the person is projecting himself mentally into the future and thinks two and a half months would be too long. 'Will' giving a more emphatic expression of this view than 'is'.
    I hope this helps clear up the confusion to which I've contributed. I wonder if Panjandrum will agree with this view.
     
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thank you Thomas T.
    We are talking about nuances of meaning that - certainly for me - could change to some extent depending on context or indeed depending on the day of the week.

    A couple of specific examples might help.
    Involved in planning an activity for the next 18 months and discussing how much to allow for painting the floors (say).
    Bill says 2.5 months.
    I say,
    2.5 months is too long;
    OR
    2.5 months would be too long; (good thought)
    NOT
    2.5 months will be too long.

    I also agree with the suggestion about formal language. As I noted in another thread this morning, a lot of my English is written, and in a relatively formal context, which influences my comments - probably differently depending on the time of day and the day of the week.

    Basically, I'm agreeing whole-heartedly with Thomas T.
     

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