as long as vs. since

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HnB'ed

Member
Is "as long as" in common use and a good substitute for "since" as in "As long as you've offered, I accept?" Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would not regard as long as as being a direct substitute for since. The meanings are close, but I would see as long as you are offering having the implicit meaning that the offer may be withdrawn. On the other hand, since you are offering has the implicit meaning that I will accept the offer because you are making it.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think there are a few more points worth making here.

    As long as you've offered
    has much the force of If you've really offered.

    I wouldn't say that there's a question of the offer's being withdrawn, but rather that there is a lively question in the speaker's mind whether it was ever made - as long as you've offered is almost asking for confirmation that the offer was made.

    As long as you are offering would raise questions about whether the offer is being made, about whether it stands: the tense makes a difference.

    I agree that Since you are offering implies that the acceptance follows from the offer. It's hard to see, of course, how you can accept an offer which has not been made, but logic sometimes goes by the board in polite communication, and the accent might be on the you. I might not accept the offer from someone else.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Since you've offered, I accept makes sense to me (in the sense of seeing that you've offered). If I wanted a synonym for since, I would choose as (not because). As long as means nothing to me here and I suspect it's a US idiom.
    I also don't think that since and as long as have anything in common.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As long as to mean provided that is quite common in BE, surely, E2E4?

    I was surprised at the suggestion that it wasn't idiomatic in BE. Maybe I misunderstood you.

    The British Corpus has literally thousands of examples: eg.

    As long as she didn't get too serious it was all right. Misfortunes of Nigel. Fiona Pitt-Kethley.

    At festival time nothing is illegal or forbidden as long as you have the price. The Fraxilly fracas. Douglas Hill.
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    It indeed is an AE idiom. I actually already know of the foremost meaning of "as long as" in the sense "provided that." However, the second meaning "inasmuch as, since" is kind of more obscure to my undestanding, and hence I was expecting for some AE native speakers to spell out for me how it works.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    "As long as" in the sense of the example given by the OP is common in AE. I don't know that it's precisely the equivalent of "since", but at least in that sentence, for all practical purposes it has the same meaning. It's perhaps closer to "given that . . . " or "considering the fact that . . . ".
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    What I meant, Thomas, is that As long as you've offered, I accept has no meaning for me. (I would understand As long as you're offering, but that is not the subject of the question.)
    I can see no evidence that since and as long as can be synonyms (I note that providing and since are listed as synonyms in Urdang's Oxford Thesaurus, but I don't know why you mention provided that).

    The American Heritage Dictionary has the same sentence in the latest edition (2011). No context is given, unfortunately!
    My understanding of the sentence (with since) is as follows:
    I wasn't intending to go on holiday this month, but since you've offered (understood: to look after my daughter for me), I accept.
    I cannot replace since in this sentence with as long as (it becomes unintelligible) or because (it alters the whole tone of the sentence). I can only replace since with seeing that or as.
     
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    HnB'ed

    Member
    He are two more sentence examples that I found on merriam-webster.com and which also conveys the sense "inasmuch as," "since," to "as long as:"

    "As long as you're going, I'll go too" and "As long as I've got my boots on, I might as well go out and get the firewood"

    And here's a third one that I found in the American Heritage Dictionary looking up "so long as:"

    "So long as you're driving into town, why not give me a ride?"

    Hope it might help.


     
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    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English

    "As long as you're going, I'll go too" and "As long as I've got my boots on, I might as well go out and get the firewood"

    Since is clearly not the same as as long as in the first sentence as it would imply that s/he is going. The synonym providing could be used.
    In the other sentence since makes more sense, but I would not say it conveys the same impression as while.

    The problem with synonyms is that they are only interchangeable in certain contexts. As a translator, I often make use of thesauri and if I find, say, ten synonyms, I probably reject at least half of them, either because they are inappropriate or because they do not suit my style of writing.
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    "I wasn't intending to go on on holiday this month, but since you've offered, I accept" is what actually "as long as" as a variant of "since" implies.

    However, I still cannot figure out how the AE usage works.
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    "Seeing that/since/as you're going, I'll go too" and "seeing that/since/as I've got my boots on, I might as well go out and get the firewood" sound just right to my French ears.

    What I actually would like to know is how much frequency has the AE "as long as" compared to the shared AE/BE "since" and "as" in such context.
     
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    HnB'ed

    Member
    Oddly enough, the foremost sense of "as long as" (=during the time that) and its second AE only sense (=seeing that, since/as) can make it kind of an ambiguous idiom to use in such contexts.

    "I'll stay as long as you need me" indeed can mean either "I'll stay during the time that you need me" or "I'll stay as/since/seeing that you need me." So weird!
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    Incidentally, Merriam-Webster makes no reference to the "during that time" sense in its definition of "as soon as," unlike The American Heritage Dictionary of English Language which quotes it first off.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    [....]
    "I'll stay as long as you need me" indeed can mean either "I'll stay during the time that you need me" or "I'll stay as/since/seeing that you need me." So weird!
    I doubt anyone would say this expecting 'as long as' to be understood "given that, because".

    Native speakers of English tend to be aware of the possibilities of ambiguity and avoid them, or go on to clarify which meaning they have in mind.

    I suppose that the same is true of native speakers of French.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think the distinctions other posters have made above may be useful. :)
    I don't think that pushing it further is going to be helpful.
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    Well, I think on the contrary that it might be worth pushing it a bit further as long as Parla in post #7 put forward it actually is common in AE in the sense of the example given in the OP, which approximates to saying "given that" or "considering the fact that." In addition, most advices that I've been receiving so far come from the BE side. Now, if you don't mind and for the sake of intellectual curiosity, I think it'd be interesting to collect a few more evidence from the other side of the Atlantic, unless you know of some expects in the Merriam-Webster's or Houghton-Muffin's usage panels that I could contact and who could explain to me in plain language the uncanny usage of "as long as" in the sense "since/seeing that."
     

    HnB'ed

    Member
    Here's another sentence example that I've taken from an article written by R. Minder in 2012 in the NY Times, Section B; Column 0; Business/Financial Desk; Pg. 3:

    "Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made as long as at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland."

    Here again, the sense of what is being conveyed is ambiguous as, depending on the context in which "as long as" is to be understood, it can imply that:
    - Either Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made providing/provided that at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland;
    - Or that Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made since/as/inasmuch as/seeing that 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland;
    - Or even that Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made during the time that at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland.

    Well, looks like I've dug up here something big for you fellow native speakers to rack your brain over...
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think this is much of a problem, HNBD.
    "Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made as long as at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland."
    This clearly doesn't mean your second suggestion - since/as/inasmuch as/seeing that. I'd add because.

    It means during the time that - this is a proviso, the introduction to a sufficient condition, so making the sufficient condition your first option isn't to add anything.

    The point about as long as in this context is that it's saying that the condition is now met, and the consequence will follow during the time that it continues to be met. Whether as long as means that the consequence will reapply the moment the condition recurs is an open question.
     
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    HnB'ed

    Member
    Well, if one doesn't know the context which is involved in this sentence, all three suggestions seem to work just fine to my ears and, yes, it indeed also makes sense if you substitute "because" for "since."

    - Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made providing (on/under the condition that) at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland;
    - Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made since (in view of the the fact that) 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland;
    - Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made during the time that at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland;
    - Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made because (for the reason/due to the fact that) 50 percent of the movement comes from Switzerland.

    Still and all, the "because/for the reason that" sense of "as long as" is suggested in neither Merriam-Webster nor the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Well, looks like I've dug up here something big for you fellow native speakers to rack your brain over...
    No, you have done nothing of the sort.
    Well, if one doesn't know the context which is involved in this sentence, all three suggestions seem to work just fine to my ears
    Indeed, the context is not an issue with this sentence. If you were using the ears of a native speaker, you would know that the sentence "Golden Hawk can label its watches Swiss-made as long as at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland." can only have one meaning, as Thomas Tompion has already explained. The three other suggestions in your post #21 are of no relevance to the meaning of "as long as" in this sentence.

    You also seem to have forgotten that your original question referred to a specific use of "as long as" or "since" and did not relate to any other possible partial synonyms.
     
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