How long is he dead?

ADMP

Senior Member
Sinhaleese - Sri Lanka
Can you please tell me whether this is correct?

Tom : We haven't been to grandfather's place for long time after grandmother died.

Jim : How long is she dead / it's been how long she has died
 
  • panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We haven't been to grandfather's place for long time after grandmother died.
    I'm not sure what you intend to say here. Perhaps:
    We haven't been to grandfather's place since grandmother died.

    How long is she dead?
    How long's she been dead?
    How long ago did she die?
    When did she die?
    ... There are many ways to ask the question. These would all be natural in my part of the world.
     

    stezza

    Banned
    english
    Panjandrum, I would be interested to know if the form "How long is she dead?" is restricted to an Irish usage or if it extends to the rest of the British Isles. It sounds intensely unusual to my ear. By extension, would you say "How long is she here" with the meaning "How long has she been here?" or "How long has he the car?" with the meaning "How long has he had the car?"?
     

    ADMP

    Senior Member
    Sinhaleese - Sri Lanka
    We haven't been to grandfather's place for long time after grandmother died.
    I'm not sure what you intend to say here. Perhaps:
    We haven't been to grandfather's place since grandmother died.

    How long is she dead?
    How long's she been dead?
    How long ago did she die?
    When did she die?
    ... There are many ways to ask the question. These would all be natural in my part of the world.

    I have a small confusion as Why "is " is used here "How long is she dead" since action has happened already, why can't we use "was" here
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)
    I have a small confusion as Why "is " is used here "How long is she dead" since action has happened already, why can't we use "was" here

    Because "dead" is an adjective, describing the fact that she's not "alive" now.
     

    panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Panjandrum, I would be interested to know if the form "How long is she dead?" is restricted to an Irish usage or if it extends to the rest of the British Isles. It sounds intensely unusual to my ear. By extension, would you say "How long is she here" with the meaning "How long has she been here?" or "How long has he the car?" with the meaning "How long has he had the car?"?
    I don't know if this usage is restricted to Ireland - perhaps we'll get some idea here :)

    I don't think it extends to the other contexts/adjectives, it may only apply to "dead". Oh, hang on, it also works with "married". How long are you married? But it only works in questions. For example, I wouldn't say "I'm married for X years." (I wouldn't say "I'm dead for ..." either :))

    You'll be making me think this is a personal quirk.
     

    ADMP

    Senior Member
    Sinhaleese - Sri Lanka
    I don't know if this usage is restricted to Ireland - perhaps we'll get some idea here :)

    I don't think it extends to the other contexts/adjectives, it may only apply to "dead". Oh, hang on, it also works with "married". How long are you married? But it only works in questions. For example, I wouldn't say "I'm married for X years." (I wouldn't say "I'm dead for ..." either :))

    You'll be making me think this is a personal quirk.

    Why can't we say that "I'm married for 5 years." and how to say it?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    How long is she dead? - I couldn't say this.

    I could say 'how long has she been dead', if we had just found the body. I wouldn't say it if it was a matter of months or years.

    How long's she been dead? - as above

    How long ago did she die?
    When did she die?

    These last two would be fine, to my ear.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    How long is she dead? - I couldn't say this.

    I could say 'how long has she been dead', if we had just found the body. I wouldn't say it if it was a matter of months or years.

    How long's she been dead?
    How long ago did she die?
    When did she die?

    These last three would be fine, to my ear.

    The same holds true for this American English speaker. Oops... I didn't read carefully. I wouldn't say, "How long's she been dead?"
     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Why can't we say that "I'm married for 5 years." and how to say it?

    If you say 'I'm married for five years', then you mean you have just married and you have decided that this marriage will last five years, at the end of which you will get a divorce.

    The link between the past and the present has to be expressed with the use of the present perfect, hence the example below:
    How long has he been dead?

    If you say 'how long ago did he die?', you are not interested in establishing a relationship with the present moment (to underline maybe that you miss this person, or the changes that have been entailed by his death). Here, you merely want to go back to the date of his death. The same goes for 'when did he die?'

    Hope it helps.
    Now a question of my own:
    why wouldn't we say 'since when has he been dead?' (I know it is not natural, but we keep encountering this in some grammar books, and although it is not grammatically wrong, what makes it weird?)
     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    I could say 'how long has she been dead', if we had just found the body. I wouldn't say it if it was a matter of months or years.
    This one escaped my first reading. Couldn't you say 'how long has he been dead now?' in the following context:
    Mrs X is a widow, and ever since her husband died, she has not left her home. After five months, her daughter who lives in a different country, comes to visit her and have a talk with her. And she tries to convince her mother that mourning him this way is not going to help her cope with life. So she says:
    'how long has he been dead now? Five months? And how long do you intend to stay here? Another five months? A year? Come on, mum, this is not reasonable, life has not come to an end, let's go out together, you need to see the world.'

    Sorry for this long short story, but I think it can be said in many peculiar situations when the speaker will intend to establish a link with the current situation, regardless of the number of years or months that may have gone by.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    This one escaped my first reading. Couldn't you say 'how long has he been dead now?' in the following context:
    Mrs X is a widow, and ever since her husband died, she has not left her home. After five months, her daughter who lives in a different country, comes to visit her and have a talk with her. And she tries to convince her mother that mourning him this way is not going to help her cope with life. So she says:
    'how long has he been dead now? Five months? And how long do you intend to stay here? Another five months? A year? Come on, mum, this is not reasonable, life has not come to an end, let's go out together, you need to see the world.'

    Sorry for this long short story, but I think it can be said in many peculiar situations when the speaker will intend to establish a link with the current situation, regardless of the number of years or months that may have gone by.

    Yes, I agree. I was wrong before to suggest you'd only say it if you'd just found the body.
     

    setantaclaus

    Member
    English, Ireland
    I don't know if this usage is restricted to Ireland - perhaps we'll get some idea here :)

    I don't think it extends to the other contexts/adjectives, it may only apply to "dead". Oh, hang on, it also works with "married". How long are you married? But it only works in questions. For example, I wouldn't say "I'm married for X years." (I wouldn't say "I'm dead for ..." either :))

    You'll be making me think this is a personal quirk.

    As somebody from the other end of Ireland, I wouldn't say "How long is she dead?", although I can imagine somebody uttering it, perhaps at a wake or in a John B. Keane work.
     
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