In the last few days, I have been posting questions such as “Since when is El Cantar de mio Cid considered a national epic of Spain?”, “Since when is Daredevils of Sassoun considered a national epic of the Armenians?” and “Since when is the Ramakien considered one of Thailand's national epics?” on Literature Stack Exchange. These are history-of-literature questions asking for date or time periods.

Today, someone commented,

I'm a little confused by the titles of these recent questions of yours. Are you using the phrase "since when" in its usual idiomatic meaning?

I am not using “since when” in the way defined by Merriam-Webster:

used to show that one is surprised and often angry, annoyed, or doubtful about what someone has said or done

Wiktionary defines “since when” as “From what time”, so I went looking for usage examples of that phrase. Curiously, the DuckDuckGo results for “from what time” returns only pages in which that specific phrase isn't even used.

So I'm still looking for an alternative to “since when” that would work in British English (!) in questions such as

[Since when] is El Cantar de mio Cid considered a national epic of Spain?

Does “from what time” really work in spite of my inability to find usage examples? If not, what phrase would appropriate here?

  • 1
    The last question in your post, "what phrase would work better", is going to invite not-great answers. There are probably a lot of equally good alternatives ("when was X first considered", "when did X become", "how long has it been since X", "when was the first time that X", etc.), which doesn't suit the Stack Exchange format.
    – Juhasz
    Dec 7, 2021 at 20:49
  • 1
    "... delete your question". Ah, the kind people of English SE :-D
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 7, 2021 at 20:54
  • 1
    @David Your interpretation is IMO excessively broad; and this question, being about subtle shades of meaning depending on context, is entirely appropriate for ELU.
    – Spencer
    Dec 8, 2021 at 17:30
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    @David ELL is for simple subjects at a basic learner's level, which this decidedly is not.
    – Spencer
    Dec 8, 2021 at 21:20
  • 1
    @David Even a well-educated English speaker can give offense with a careless choice of words and/or phrasing. That is the subject of this question, not the details of any answers.
    – Spencer
    Dec 8, 2021 at 22:02

4 Answers 4


I can think of a few ways.

The simplest:

When was El Cantar de mio Cid first considered a national epic of Spain?

(One could say, in lieu of "considered", "recognized" or "declared")

A little more wordy:

When did El Cantar de mio Cid first start to be considered a national epic of Spain?

  • "When was El Cantar de mio Cid first considered a national epic of Spain?" Doesn't that imply that it no longer is?
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 7, 2021 at 22:43
  • 4
    @Tsundoku No, the use of "first" implies continuation.
    – Spencer
    Dec 7, 2021 at 23:50
  • @Spencer: It implies continuation but it doesn't necessarily imply continuation to the present. The question "When did Babe Ruth first play baseball?" implies that he played baseball for a while but it doesn't imply that he is still playing baseball. Dec 8, 2021 at 12:43
  • 1
    @MichaelSeifert It also doesn't imply non-continuation to the present. If the distinction were important in context (there's that word again), another sentence would be added to clarify.
    – Spencer
    Dec 8, 2021 at 13:04
  • @Spencer: Fair. I just didn't want the OP to think that it definitively implied one or the other. Dec 8, 2021 at 13:20

Another option would be

How long has El Cantar de mio Cid been considered a national epic of Spain?

This has the advantage of sounding natural and being clear that you are discussing an ongoing (and accepted) status. The potential disadvantage is that you may get answers of the form "for [number] years" rather than "since [date]", and although these ought to be equivalent, in practice the former may be less precise.


Another way would be:

From when was El Cantar de mio Cid considered a national epic of Spain?


The simplest suggestion, for objective fact:

  • When did it become ...

If the question is more about opinion than objective fact:

  • When was it first recognized as ...
  • When did it enter the canon of ...

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