Lucie Zlámalová
Grammatical question for English native speakers/learners Hi everyone! I have a question for you. My boyfriend is doing some exercises and there he is supposed to fill in correct tenses. The problematic sentence is: How long_____________________(live) in London? I know there should be most likely HAVE YOU LIVED, however, my BF wonders why is DID YOU LIVE incorrect. I assume that in this case the 'respondent' would be dead, am I right? Would be also correct this form (relating to the past) - How long DID YOU USE TO LIVE in London? Sorry for silly questions, but the more I think about it, the more confused I am :D Thanks very much!
Feb 17, 2016 8:57 PM
Answers · 3
You're right that 'have you lived' is correct. You could also say 'have you been living', which has the same meaning. In both cases, the person is still living in London now. You could also say 'did you live', in the past simple. It doesn't mean the person is dead, however. We don't normally ask dead people questions! If you ask someone 'How long did you live in London', it means that the person no longer lives there. For example, 'How long did you live in London?' 'I lived there for three years, from 2005 to 2008'. It's grammatically correct to say 'How long did you use to live in London?', but we wouldn't use the 'used to' form in this question. We use 'used to' to make a contrast between the situation now and a situation in the past, not to ask how long a period in the past lasted. If someone used to live in London and they now live somewhere else, you would ask them this question in the past simple, as above. I hope that helps.
February 17, 2016
So just to add a side note to what Su.Ki has stated so well, both of your answers are correct for that sentence. They just mean two different things. Your example asks someone who still lives in London and his asks someone no longer living in London. So the correct answer depends on the present situation of the person who you are asking.
February 17, 2016
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Lucie Zlámalová
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, English, French, German, Russian
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Russian