the longest time?

ticcota

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi,

Q:"How long can a human go without water?"
A:"The longest time is 8 days." or "Eight days is the longest time."


Is "the longest time" idiomatic? I somehow feel "time" is clumsy here, but I don't know what other term I could use to replace it, or if it can be left out.

Thank you.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    In response to this particular question, I would leave it out ... and qualify the time:

    The longest is about eight days.
    Eight days is about the longest.
     

    compaqdrew

    Senior Member
    English - AE
    I agree that time seems clumsy, but I find copyright's suggestion of dropping the noun altogether somewhat awkward. I would say

    A human can go [at most / no longer than] eight days without water.

    The idiomatic pattern for a formal context is [subject] [verb] [fact]. Although the answer is the most important part, and I understand your desire to front-load it for emphasis, the constructions in this case require too much acrobatics to sound right.

    Although if you are in an informal context I might forget complete sentences here. It is clear from the context that what immediately follows the question is the answer--therefore I would be tempted to cheat and simply say "Eight days." following the question, particularly if you are in a QA format.
     
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