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.

Can we say "Had you been there for quite some time?" without saying "before" this and that? Or should we rather say "Were you there for quite some time"?

share|improve this question
3  
I don’t know that which of those two different tenses you use matters, but you’d better write ‘some time’ with a space in it. –  tchrist Feb 18 '12 at 18:49
    
How's that? Sometime is one word, isn't it? –  Noah Feb 18 '12 at 18:54
2  
No, not here: sometime is an adverb, and on occasion an adjective. But "for some time" is a prep phrase, requiring a noun or pronoun for its object. That noun is time. Think of "for no time", "for a lot of time", "for much time", "for some time". You cannot use "sometime" as the object of "for". "For some time", "at some time", "at some point in time". –  tchrist Feb 18 '12 at 19:03
    
Thanks. Changed it. –  Noah Feb 19 '12 at 4:45
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Had you been there for quite some time? is perfectly grammatical without the word before. But the implication of the question is that the being there was delimited by some event. Examples:

  • I hear you got the sack. Had you been there for quite some time?
  • So she said she wanted to leave. Had you been there for quite some time?

There is no such implication in the question: Were you there for quite some time? Examples:

  • I hear you worked in London. Were you there for quite some time?
  • How was the party? Were you there for quite some time?
share|improve this answer
    
Let's say someone is from the UK and then he spent sometime in New Zealand and now you met him in the US. Would you say, had you been in New Zealand for quite some time? Or were you in New Zealand for quite some time? –  Noah Feb 18 '12 at 21:50
    
@Noah: If you're coming here to ask questions, common courtesy dictates you should to take some note of the answers. tchrist pointed out several hours before your last comment that some time in your usage is two words. –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 '12 at 0:46
1  
@Noah. The usual question would be "Were you in New Zealand for quite some time?" You would use the past perfect if you are referencing another event which occurred in that time period: "Had you been in New Zealand for quite some time when you met your future wife?" or "Had you been in New Zealand for quite some time when you lost your job?" –  Shoe Feb 19 '12 at 6:30
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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