Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Which one is correct or is preferable in this context:

  1. We want to be free... and we wait/we've been waiting for that moment our whole life/our whole lives.
  2. We want to be free... and we wait/we've been waiting for that moment all our life/all our lives.
  3. We want to be free... and we wait/we've been waiting for that moment all of our life/all of our lives.

Is there any difference in meaning between them, or they can be used interchangeably? Is the word "of" optional in this instance?

share|improve this question
add comment

closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kris Jun 13 '13 at 16:11

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

I don't sense any substantive difference between these three options; that is to say, the meaning, or denotation, of each one is almost the same as in each of the others. I can tell you only that stylistically the first one is generally considered the most pleasing, and that the third is the least. The "of" is not wrong, but is unnecessary and intrusive.

Of more consequence in these examples is the difference between "we wait" and "we've been waiting." These two constructions are significantly different, and not interchangeable. Since you're not asking about these options, however, I won't go into it, unless you choose to ask about it.

share|improve this answer
add comment

No real difference in the example you've given. It depends on the context, really. Say this was one person addressing a third-party from a group of many. In this case 'we wait all our life' might be misconstrued to be speaking for oneself in a pseudo-royal sense, while 'all our lives' is unmistakably speaking for the whole group.

Up to you, I think. Your context definition seems to make it clear that either will be unambiguous.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.