In a listening of my English course book there is this sentence: "It was the freshest movie for a long time". A film critic is talking about the best movies in the last ten years. For example: For me American Beauty was the best film in the last ten years" etc, then she talks about movie "Chicago", which is a musical and says:

It was the freshest movie for a long time.

Me and a friend disagree on what "for a long time" means here. I believe that the critic is saying that Chicago was fresh after a long period in which there has been no fresh musicals and Chicago still is the freshest musical.

My friend says that the critic is saying that when Chicago came out it was freshest at its time. But after a long time a more fresh musical came. So it was the freshest for a long time (along the lines of it was the highest building for 10 years)

Which one of us (if any) is right?

The Listening is from Total English Elementary, Unit 9, listening 9.4 Here I write some of the script. Presenter: Good evening. Tonight we've got Mariela with us to talk about her favourite films from the last ten years. Mariela, what do you think is the best film of the last ten years?

Mariela:Hello, Neil, well, there's no competition for me. I know a lot of people think it was Gladiator, but for me the best film in the last ten years was American Beauty-it was so different, very clever, and it had the best acting, I think. It was the most unusual film in the last ten years.

Presenter: So, no vote for Gladiator from you?

Mariela: Oh, I think Gladiator was really good. It was definitely the most exciting film, but it's not my favourite.

Presenter: Were there any surprises for you in the last ten years?

Mariela: Surprises... well, yes. I think the biggest surprise was The Sixth Sense - it was a fantastic film from an unknown director. No one expected it. I think it's also the scariest film in the last ten years.

Presenter: What about foreign language films? Any good ones there?

Mariela: Well, lots, of course, but the one that iI think was best was All about my mother, by Almodovar. It was a lovely film. Very sad, but the most interesting foreign language film of the ten years.

Presenter: Mmm, I liked that one too. You don't like violent films, do you?

Mariela: No, I don't. but there's one violent film that I want to talk about - Pulp Fiction. That was very violent, possibly the most violent film of th ten years, but it was so good - it was definitely the best mixture of action and comedy at the time. And John Travolta was really fantastic as a villain - it's not usually the kind of past he plays, but he played the bad guy so well in this.

Presenter: Well, i think that's all we have time for...

Mariela: No, wait a moment, there's one more film I want to mention, and that's Chicago. I don't usually like musicals at the cinema, but >>>it was the freshest musical for a long time<<< - it was really good.

Presenter: Ok. Thank you very much, Mariela, and now we turn to .....

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, Drew, Ellie Kesselman, Misti, 200_success Mar 2 '15 at 20:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    You're right that it's very poorly worded. – Hot Licks Feb 28 '15 at 19:39
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    @Mari-Lou - yes, well, I also included that information, too. "in many years" – user98990 Feb 28 '15 at 19:41
  • @LittleEva Definitely a better choice :) – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '15 at 19:43
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    No, the question is very clear. Hot Licks is commenting on the quote. I would have re-worded your post, if it weren't. – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '15 at 19:53
  • I think that since the critic is talking about the recent movies it won't make much sense to say it was the freshest until another movie came out. She is talking about the best movies in the last ten years. So if there was a better musical than Chicago why should she talk about Chicago in the first place? – Ramin Asadi Feb 28 '15 at 20:38

Speaking personally, and without more context, I'd argue you're both right. The critic might have been actively seeking the ambiguity, too: it was both the freshest in years and for years.


Can you provide not just general contex, but like a transcript of the actual discussion, or a link to a listening assignment? Although one interpretation may be prone to being "more correct" if not "the correct", in spoken language, people often change what they want to say in mid-utterance and end up with a potpourri of grammar whose meaning can't really be analyzed outside of the actual conversational context.

For instance,

It was the freshest movie for a long time

could be meant as

It was the freshest movie to come out for a long time


It was the freshest movie that has come out for a long time.

And/Or "for a long time" could have been what she said, but "in a long time" what she meant.

But we can't answer for sure without seeing or hearing the sentence as actually uttered in the actual conversation.

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