haven't been training for long

Discussion in 'English Only' started by grammar-in-use, Feb 11, 2019 at 2:05 PM.

  1. grammar-in-use

    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!
     
  2. Chez Senior Member

    London
    English English
    Yes it could be interpreted in both ways.
     
  3. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    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!).
     
  4. grammar-in-use

    grammar-in-use Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you very much for your quick replies.

    Then how would you native speakers differentiate the two readings? By means of stress and intonation (besides context, of course)?
     
  5. grammar-in-use

    grammar-in-use Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you! OK, so the adverbial phrases "for a long time" and "for long" would make all the difference, right?
     
  6. Chez Senior Member

    London
    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.
     
  7. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I would interpret it as a1.
     
  8. Barque Senior Member

    India
    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.)
     
  9. grammar-in-use

    grammar-in-use Senior Member

    Chinese
    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):
    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")?
     
  10. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    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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