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?

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

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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.


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.

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