2

Would the following sentences sound grammatically correct and natural?

  • Why are you taking so long to do that? It is just a simple task. -I don't wanna take too long in the library because I have an appointment.
  • Windows is an operating system which usually takes longer to start than Mac OS.
  • He often takes too long in the shower. -The flight took too long to get to the capital, so I missed the meeting with my boss.
  • Titanic is a long movie. It takes too long to end.
  • Try not to take so long in the bank because we have to study.
  • Brides almost always take too long to apply make-up. That's why they are usually late for the ceremony.

And finally, are the following sentences equivalent?

"I took long in the bank because there were so many people in the queue"

"I took a lot of time in the bank because there were so many people in the queue".

1
  • You took a long time in the bank because there were so many people in the queue. Otherwise everything seems good at first blush.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 8, 2015 at 1:06

1 Answer 1

1

There's a difference between take long (also last long and be long), and take/last/be a long time.

The phrases with just long are Negative Polarity Items. That means they are ungrammatical,
unless they occur within the scope of some negative trigger. What's a negative trigger?
Well, some contexts -- comparatives like take longer, questions like Why are you taking so long?
and some lexical items -- overt negatives like never, not, and too in too long.

None of this is true of take/be/last a long time, which are not restricted in occurrence.
Thus,

  • This won't take a long time = This won't take long. (negative context)
  • This will take a long time; but not *This will take long. (affirmative context)
  • He takes too long to make coffee; but not *He takes long to make coffee.

So

  • *I took long in the bank because there were so many people in the queue

is also ungrammatical because there is no negative context for took long.

2
  • 1
    Therefore I should have written "I took a long time in the bank because there were so many people in the queue", right? In a nutshell, we can only use the structure "to take long" either in questions or negative sentences (or negative contexts as you said) According to the Macmillan dictionary, "be/take long" are used that way. The sentences "Brides take too long to apply make-up" and "Windows is an operating system which usually takes longer to start than Mac OS" are not negative per se. However, there is a negative context in both cases. Is that right? Nov 9, 2015 at 13:01
  • That's right. Negation is a bigger and more complex topic than you might have expected. It's at least as important as tenses are; all languages have negatives, but there are lots of languages without tenses. Nov 9, 2015 at 14:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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