In the movie Allied, Marianne says to Max, who just arrived home, "You were ages."

What does this mean?

The Cambridge Dictionary says that ages means a very long time, like in It’s been ages since I’ve seen you.

but is "you were ages" grammatical? Is it a common idiomatic expression?

  • 1
    It means they took a long time.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 6:46
  • retracted downvote but the "original post" is now asking a different question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 9:26
  • 2
    "You were ages" has the same meaning as "You were/took a long time". It is perfectly grammatical and idiomatic in BrEnglish. Can you explain why you think it might not be?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 9:46
  • I've never heard this idiom before, so I am also curious where people say this and where it came from. Is the pattern productive or is it a fixed idiom?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 21:37
  • The context in't clear. Was the sentence simply a complete "You were ages." or did something follow or what? Can you give the full sentence before and after, enough for context?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


Generally "you were ages" means "what you were doing took a long time".


Ages is often used with a different set of prepositions and word combinations to suggest that something or someone has required too much time, or that too much time has passed or will be passed.

Most common usages are:

for ages, in ages, takes ages, it will be ages, you were ages, it was ages, ages before, after ages.

Example sentences:

  • I haven’t seen you in ages – you look different.
  • We haven’t been here for ages; we must come here more often.
  • It takes ages to learn to play the guitar.
  • It took ages to get there.
  • It will be ages before we get our exam results.
  • I will not be able to meet her for ages because I have so much work on.
  • You were ages in the bathroom. What were you doing?
  • I was ages putting this proposal together. I hope they like it.
  • I met her online about 2010, but it was ages before I met her in real life.
  • The restaurant was lovely and the conversation was good, but it was ages before they brought the food.
  • I have not seen her going to temple in ages.


  • 1
    Answers to off-topic questions should be left to inexperienced and new users who might want to build up easy rep. But this is not your case, despite the 6K rep you have today, you once had 145K or thereabouts, so you know the "rules of etiquette"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 9:04
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA - there is more than rep going on on ELU. This question is interesting, at least to NNS eyes, and it is worth a full answer. It should probably be moved to ELL, but still worth an answer. BTW, what dictionary explains what "you were ages" mean? and the set of variants of different usages in which ages can be used?
    – user 66974
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 9:08
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - yes...the sentence which is not clear is "you were ages", see the update.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 9:24
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA I found the question interesting. "For ages" (despite being marked as British) is used in AmE (my dialect). However, the definition does not mention the expression "you were ages", which is not used in AmE. I understand that the grammaticality is obvious to you, but it is not so for people who speak other dialects, not even with that dictionary definition.
    – Laurel
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 15:44
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - no they didnt, another more detailed answer is wanted. I read on Meta ,not long ago, about someone complaining that too many potentially good questions are CVed too quickly. Did I misread?
    – user 66974
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 15:50

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