haven't been training for long

grammar-in-use

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone,

How would you normally interpret this sentence:
a. I haven't been training for a long time.
?

Could Sentence (a) have two readings, as shown in (a1) and (a2)?
=a1. It's been a long time since I last trained.
=a2. I've been training for a short time. I'm a rookie.

Thanks a lot in advance!
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Phrased that way, it means it’s been a long time since I last went training.

    If it meant you were new to training, it would be phrased differently: I haven’t been training for long (as in your title!).
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Phrased that way, it means it’s been a long time since I last went training.

    If it meant you were new to training, it would be phrased differently: I haven’t been training for long (as in your title!).
    Thank you! OK, so the adverbial phrases "for a long time" and "for long" would make all the difference, right?
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    I still think you can interpret the sentence with either meaning (yes, it might be more usual to say 'for long' but there's no reason not to say 'for a long time').

    As you say, grammar-in-use, only context could tell you definitively which meaning is intended.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I think it also depends on which meaning of "training" is intended. From the fact that you said this:
    QUOTE="grammar-in-use, post: 18031265, member: 653241"]I'm a rookie.[/QUOTE]
    you probably mean "training" as in training racehorses or training someone in something. Your sentence could mean either of those two options, though I'd be more likely to take it as a2 (that you started training recently).

    But if you mean "training" as in "practising" or "preparing", I'd be even more likely to interpret it as meaning you started training recently.

    (For some reason it feels odd to call a trainer a rookie, though I understand what you mean.)
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But if you mean "training" as in "practising" or "preparing", I'd be even more likely to interpret it as meaning you started training recently.
    Thanks a lot! I'd say "training" here just means "practising(or practicing)", used in a very general sense.
    Then what if I just say:
    b. I haven't been practicing for a long time.
    ?
    Is Sentence (b) still ambiguous?
    How about:
    b1. I haven't been practicing for long.
    ?

    Sound shift differs from Barque in interpreting Sentence (a):
    I would interpret it as a1.
    I'd be more likely to take it as a2 (that you started training recently)
    Then I'm just thinking what leads to Sentence (a) being ambiguous. Does it have something to do with the scope of negation (negating the verb phrase "have been training" VS negating the for-phrase "for a long time")?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Sound shift differs from Barque in interpreting Sentence (a):
    I suspect the others might have taken "training" in the first of the two meanings I referred to--training someone else. In any case, context can make a big difference and you haven't provided us any. By context I mean the situation in which this was said, what was said earlier, etc.

    The sentence isn't really ambiguous. You won't necessarily get the same answer from everyone if you don't provide context because everyone will interpret it based on whatever possible context comes to their mind. It seems ambiguous because we're looking at it without context.
     
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