How long have you had the plant?

danusia

Senior Member
Polish
One person asks: My new plant is dropping its leaves. what i should do about it?
Another answers: How long have you had the plant? . . .

If I asked: How long do you have the plant? instead, would it be correct?
 
  • danusia

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you.
    In my original question, if I asked: How long do you have the plant for? would it be better in your opinion?
     

    Resa Reader

    Senior Member
    One person asks: My new plant is dropping its leaves. what i should do about it?
    Another answers: How long have you had the plant? . . .
    "Having the plant" started in the past and goes on to the present. This is why you have to use the the Present Perfect. A possible answer to your question would be "I have had it for two years."
    (Do you use a present tense in Polish here? So would we in German. We simply have to accept that the way of looking at things is different in the English language here.)
     

    danusia

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you, Resa Reader. I see you understand my difficulties.

    Nevertheless, it looks like the incorrect use of the phrase “How long do you have the . . .” is prevalent.
    Google gives me 128,000,000 results when searching for the phrase “How long do you have the” (in qoutation marks) and only 27,900,000 results when searching for “How long have you had the” (in qoutation marks).

    Doesn't it mean that what was once considered incorrect becomes acceptable simply because it is used much more often, while what was once considered correct (“How long have you had the . . .”) becomes rather archaic?


    Or am I missing something?
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Um, check your google results on "How long do you have the". A lot of them are completely off-topic (i.e. "How long do you have? The question as it is posed...").

    The other way to use "How long do you have the..." is in questions like "How long do you have the cat over at your house for?" (For how long will the cat be staying at your house? When will the cat return to its other locations?) or "How long do you have the symptoms of food poisoning after you eat bad chicken?" (How long will the symptoms last after their initial cause?). These are clearly not the situations you're looking for.

    You need the present perfect if you still have the plant (which is implied by your context - since you can still "do something about" the plant), or the simple past if you don't have the plant any more ("How long did you have the plant?").
     

    danusia

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Um, check your google results on "How long do you have the". A lot of them are completely off-topic (i.e. "How long do you have? The question as it is posed...").
    Thanks lucas-sp.
    I agree, some are off-topic, but most are not, they are simply incorrect (but evidently possible to understand correctly).
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    See the second paragraph of my post above for more examples of how the google results are not necessarily relevant to the discussion.
     

    danusia

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I appreciate very much your explanation lucas-sp, it helps a lot! However, in your last post, I would rather say “not always” instead of “not necessarily”.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi Danusia.
    Consider another example with 'how long' question.
    I go skiing to the Tatra Mountains every winter.
    Do you go skiing to the Tatra Mountains every winter? ~Yes, I do.
    Where do you go skiing every winter? ~The Tatra Mountains.
    How often do you go skiing? ~Every winter.
    How long do you go skiing to the Tatra Mountains?

    You can’t ask this question because the sentence: I go skiing to the Tatra Mountains every winter doesn’t say anything about the duration of this activity.
    Perhaps you could ask:
    How long do you ski? = How long do you usually ski at a time?
    The answer could be: I normally only get to ski 2 or 3 runs one day a week.

    Let's assume you started the activity four years ago and you continue doing it up to now then you don't say:
    I go skiing to the Tatras for four years because that would mean that you normally go skiing there for four years at a time.

    You have to say:
    I have been skiing to the Tatras for four years (already).

    I am not a native speaker of English but this is how I understand it.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The tense for a period of past time leading up to the present is the present perfect, not the present tense. You have owned the plant for a period of past time leading up to the present.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Google gives me 128,000,000 results when searching for the phrase “How long do you have the” (in qoutation marks) and only 27,900,000 results when searching for “How long have you had the” (in qoutation marks).

    Doesn't it mean that what was once considered incorrect becomes acceptable simply because it is used much more often, while what was once considered correct (“How long have you had the . . .”) becomes rather archaic?


    Or am I missing something?
    Yes, you are missing the point that a simple Google search is a very, very poor way of checking on normal English usage. Not only do you pick up results where the topic sentence or phrase is used correctly (unlike the incorrect use your question is about), but you also pick up examples of very poor English from blogs and discussion forums.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    I wouldn't ask in either way, instead, I would ask "How long have you been having the plant (for)?".
    You can say, How long have you been having those pains? because it is a recurring multiple event. I cannot ever imagine anyone saying how long have you been having the plant? It just is not right.I would say How long have you had the plant?

    How long have you had the plant for?
    would have curled my English teacher's hair, but it is said very often.
    You could say, How long have you been having the plant treated by a botanist? because an action, which plays off of been having, follows plant.
     

    danusia

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yes, you are missing the point that a simple Google search is a very, very poor way of checking on normal English usage. Not only do you pick up results where the topic sentence or phrase is used correctly (unlike the incorrect use your question is about), but you also pick up examples of very poor English from blogs and discussion forums.
    Google search may not be the best learning tool how to use the language correctly, I can't tell.
    However, it is the best way of checking on how the language is being used in every day life because, as you rightly observed, it picks up everything, correct and incorrect. If one understands the word “normal” as normally, or most often, used than it is the best tool for checking on normal English usage.
    As I already said, if it is a good learning tool, the answer to this question depends on the person answering. For some it may be a good tool, for others it may be not.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Google search may not be the best learning tool how to use the language correctly, I can't tell.
    However, it is the best way of checking on how the language is being used in every day life because, as you rightly observed, it picks up everything, correct and incorrect. If one understands the word “normal” as normally, or most often, used than it is the best tool for checking on normal English usage.
    As I already said, if it is a good learning tool, the answer to this question depends on the person answering. For some it may be a good tool, for others it may be not.
    If you prefer to believe your interpretation of Google results rather than the informed opinions of native speakers, that's entirely up to you.
    But it makes me wonder why you bother to ask the question here.

    If you want to use Google, be sure to look carefully at the results you find. Do not accept the counts without reservation.

    If you are looking for a good tool to check usage, use Google Books, or Google News, or any of the corpora listed in the resources thread at the top of this forum.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I think Google search might be one of the worst tools or usage indicators for somebody who just starts learning the language and cannot tell which usage is right and which is not. There are a lot of incorrect grammatical constructions there from various blogs and low standard fora. I agree with Panjandrum that it only makes sense to check the usage by using Google News, and then still, you have to look for prestigious newspapers only.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top