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The money came from his relatives and neighbors, because of their faith in him. He paid back every dollar of it, although he was years in doing so.

Does it mean that he spent years doing it?

  • What is the source? I would expect "although he took years to do so". – user3169 Oct 30 '16 at 20:23
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Yes, that is exactly what it means. The idiom is "BE + time-periods + X-ing", and I think it always has the connotation that this is a long time for whatever the activity is.

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