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Comparing the two sentences below:

"I've known him for seven years"

"I've known him for seven years already"

I'm wondering if adding "already" would give it a different nuance such as being surprised or replying in a negative way. I feel that it's better to not add already for a neutral answer. Is this perhaps wrong?

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I think your analysis is right. The neutral form is without "already".

Using "already" here emphasises the fact of knowing him for that period. This could be desired because it's felt that there's something unusual about that, eg after saying "I live next door to him but I've never had a proper chat with him" Or it could be desired as a corrective response to something like this: "You're getting engaged? But you've only just met each other!"

  • The neutral form is indeed without already but if already changed anything it would not be to give a nuance such as being surprised or replying in a negative way. It would be to emphasise, or make more positive, that neutral statement. – Robbie Goodwin Oct 28 '17 at 19:25

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