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Which preposition is correct and what is the difference in meaning if any?

I went to the gym, something I haven't done for a long time.

I went to the gym, something I haven't done in a long time.

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I think they're both valid, but for is probably much more common, and in seems to me somewhat more dialectal/informal. –  FumbleFingers Oct 27 '11 at 17:48
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2 Answers 2

Barrie's answer is correct for the case you used as an example. However, when referring to the future, only "for" is correct.

"I won't be going to the gym again for a long time" ← valid
"I won't be going to the gym again in a long time" ← incorrect

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I don't agree with your example, I think they are both OK. My example where they are not the same: I have been living here for a long time. not in a long time. –  GEdgar Oct 27 '11 at 19:21
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Both are grammatical. There's no difference in meaning, but, at least in the UK, in a long time could be a class marker.

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This chart showing done in/for a while suggests the in version may be the upcoming "new kid on the block". –  FumbleFingers Oct 27 '11 at 17:52
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I don't think anyone in the US would even notice the difference, let alone make a judgment based on it. –  onomatomaniak Oct 27 '11 at 17:59
    
As always, we must treat nGram charts with caution, since they are based only on the written language. –  Barrie England Oct 27 '11 at 18:11
    
Could you elaborate on the class marker? Which class, for instance? –  Sam Oct 27 '11 at 18:32
    
I have no evidence, and am prepared to be told I'm wrong, but I think it likely that in the UK 'in a long time' would be less likely to be found in working class speech than in middle class speech. –  Barrie England Oct 27 '11 at 18:50
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