"How long have you been studying English for?"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Macunaíma, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    Is it informal or incorrect to use the preposition for in interrogative sentences starting with "how long...?", like "how long have you been living here for" ? Although it's commonly used by native speakers I never see it in written language.

    Thanks for your replies.
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  3. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I think the question is not so much where "for" should be placed, as whether it is needed at all.

    I'd say "How long have you been studying English?" (no for)
  4. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I agree with your both comments. :)

    Just out of sheer curiosity, what would you say about:
    For how long have you been studying English?

  5. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    "For" gets itself stuck to "how long" because of its usage in statements of duration:

    - We've been married for fifty-three years.
    - For how long?
    - Fifty-three years!
    - You don't say!

    Neither of those fors is grammatically necessary, but they're not incorrect either. Basically they serve the function of 'throughout.'

    In conversation, or writing in a conversational style, they are perfectly acceptable and even desirable. Otherwise, their unnecessariness earmarks them for excision.
  6. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I would never say it that way, as it sounds unnatural. In any case, it is unnecessarily long: How long have you been studying English has just the same meaning.
  7. Danc Senior Member

    Niort, France
    English (European)
    I think you would often use it..

    I've been studying English.
    Really? For how long?
  8. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    OK, but that's not the sentence that Thomas1 asks about (or should that be "about which Thomas1 asks"?:D)
  9. Adina Zaharia New Member

    Hi !

    I have this Q&A exercise:

    Q: long /working / the company ?
    A: Two years.

    How should I formulate the question correctly ?
    "How long have you been working in the company for ?" ? Is the preposition for absolutely necessary since the answer doesn't contain it ?
    thanks !
  10. Florentia52

    Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    Welcome to the forum, Adina.

    As indicated previously in this thread, "for" is not necessary at the end of the question, and sounds unnatural.

    Also, we don't usually say "working in the company" in this context. "For" or perhaps "at" would be the better preposition here.
  11. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I agree that "for" is unnecessary, and adding it sounds clumsy to me. But you do hear it sometimes, probably because people think of sentences such as "I've been working there for two years" (which sounds natural enough) and then carry the "for" over into the corresponding question.

    As for "in the company", perhaps there's an AE/BE difference. "Working in/for/at the company" all sound fine to me, though with different connotations. But no more on that here, or we'll go off topic.


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