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Sentence Patterns using "How long have you...?"

We use this question when we want to know how long a certain activity, action, or event has continued. It began in the past, but it has not finished or been completed.

We use "have" or "has" with these questions. It depends on the subject.

How long have I...?How long have you...?
How long have we/Jon and I...?How long has he/Jon...?
How long has she/Mary...?How long has it/the computer...?
How long have they/Mary and Jon...?How long have they/the computers...?

How long have/has + subject + past participle...?
  • How long have you lived in Mexico?
  • How long has he played the guitar?
  • How long has she been married?
  • How long have Jane and Jon lived together?
  • How long has Mark studied French?
  • How long have you learned English?
  • How long has she lived here?
How long have/has + subject + been + present participle...?

This pattern has the same meaning as above. We usually use this when we want to emphasize that an action or event has continued without stopping at all. It is more common to use this with short-term activities or actions.
  • How long have they been arguing?
  • How long has he been sleeping at his desk?
  • How long has he been sitting there?
  • How long has she been crying?
  • How long have they been secretly dating?
We can replace "How long" with "How many + (unit of time)".
  • How many days have you been traveling?
  • How many months have you worked here?
  • How many hours has she been watching TV?
  • How many years have you attended this university?
  • How many hours have you spent playing video games in your life?
Bonus Tips and Points

1. We can also make these sentences with adjectives, nouns, and prepositional phrases.

How long have/has + subject + been...?
  • How long has she been a doctor?
  • How long have you been a salesman?
  • How long has the dog been sick?
  • How long has she been angry?
  • How long has he been in the restroom?
  • How long have they been in the conference room?
Real-World English Conversations

A) How long has your company been around?
B) Our company has been in business since 1990.

A) How long have you known her?
B) I have known her for a long time. Probably over 20 years.

A) How long has she been acting this way?
B) She has been angry since she heard that her friend in marketing got fired.
A) She didn't get fired. Why is she mad?
B) She is a very loyal friend.

A) I have been working on this project all month and I am still not even close to finishing.
B) Do you need some help? I don't have much to do today.
A) That would be great. You are a life saver.
B) No problem. You would do the same for me.

A) How long have you been smoking?
B) I've smoked for 7 years.
A) You really should quit.
B) I know, but I am addicted.

A) How long have you been on hold?
B) I've been waiting on the phone for over an hour.
A) Wow. That company has terrible customer service.
B) I know, but they are the cheapest.
A) That explains it.

Use these free English lessons to learn the most common sentence patterns in the English language. If you learn these sentences and questions, it will help you speak English well. Study the lessons thoroughly, practice making your own sentences, and come back to review often. If you do these three steps, your English speaking will improve quickly and you will be able to have natural English conversations.

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