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  1. beachboy's Avatar
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    #1

    "How long have you..."

    What should I consider when choosing which question to ask?

    - 1) Rick, how long have you lived in this house?
    - 2) Rick, how long have you been living in this house?

    - 3) How long have you and Jane gone out together?
    - 4) How long have you and Jane been going out together?

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    #2

    Re: "How long have you..."

    There's no significant difference in meaning between 1 and 2. Number 3 is less likely than number 4.

    [EDIT] The continuous tense is more natural for the situation in 3 and 4 because "going out" is a repeated, habitual activity. "Living" is a continuous process which (even though you'd think a "continuous" tense would be perfect) can be described equally well with the simple past or present perfect continuous tense.
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  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "How long have you..."

    Quote Originally Posted by beachboy View Post
    What should I consider when choosing which question to ask?

    - 1) Rick, how long have you lived in this house?
    - 2) Rick, how long have you been living in this house?

    - 3) How long have you and Jane gone out together?
    - 4) How long have you and Jane been going out together?
    1, 2, and 4 are all OK. 3 doesn't work for me.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

  4. beachboy's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "How long have you..."

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    There's no significant difference in meaning between 1 and 2. Number 3 is less likely than number 4.
    Why, GoesStation? What would the problem with number 3 be?

  5. beachboy's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: "How long have you..."

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    1, 2, and 4 are all OK. 3 doesn't work for me.
    What's the main difference between sentences like 1 and sentences like 3?

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    #6

    Re: "How long have you..."

    Quote Originally Posted by beachboy View Post
    Why, GoesStation? What would the problem with number 3 be?
    Does my edit to post #2 answer your question?
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  7. beachboy's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: "How long have you..."

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Does my edit to post #2 answer your question?
    Totally.

  8. beachboy's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: "How long have you..."

    What if sentences 3 and 4 were:

    3) How long haven't you and Jane gone out together?
    4) How long haven't you and Jane been going out together?


    Would sentence 3 have the same problem if it were in the negative?

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    #9

    Re: "How long have you..."

    That's a tough one. Neither is particularly natural. You might hear "How long has it been since you and Jane went out?" or "...since you were going out with Jane?" The first is asking specifically how much time has elapsed since your last date with Jane. The second, which will have the same answer, asks how much time has elapsed since the end of the period during which you and Jane were dating.
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  10. beachboy's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: "How long have you..."

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    That's a tough one. Neither is particularly natural. You might hear "How long has it been since you and Jane went out?" or "...since you were going out with Jane?" The first is asking specifically how much time has elapsed since your last date with Jane. The second, which will have the same answer, asks how much time has elapsed since the end of the period during which you and Jane were dating.
    Is the question "how long haven't you......." usually unnatural? Or just in sentences like those above? If so, could you show me some natural exemples of questions with the expression, and what makes them natural?
    Last edited by beachboy; 25-Apr-2017 at 21:11.

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