Sometimes using adverbs of time is confusing.

Non-native speakers like me get in a tendency to carry a grammar logic while constructing sentences in order to be better understood.

I know that using two for in the following sentence is correct :

I've been waiting for you for ages.

but it sounds odd to me. I feel like using the below sentence is more accurate:

I've been waiting  you for ages.

Is there an alternative usage in that context?

  • 2
    To a native speaker's ear, there's nothing "unusual" about using for twice in one utterance. But if you don't like it, you definitely can't discard the one modifying you - only the one modifying ages (after repositioning, otherwise it's at best "awkward"). Which would give the perfectly valid I've been waiting ages for you. Jan 24 '17 at 14:14
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you for responding. I've been waiting ages for you is what I was looking for. I saw such a sentence some time ago and it sounded better in place of using two fors
    – kenn
    Jan 24 '17 at 14:20
  • @FumbleFingers I hope you post it as an answer.
    – kenn
    Jan 24 '17 at 14:22
  • As a native speaker, just to insist that it does NOT sound 'better' than using two 'for's. I'd say the one with two 'for's sounds to me like the more commonly used construction.
    – nachose
    Jan 24 '17 at 14:45
  • 1
    I'm not sure how to "explain" to a learner exactly why there's nothing "unusual" about using for twice in one utterance. The two occurrences in your example are both "unstressed", but they're obviously not "equal", in that only for ages is "optional". It may be worth noting that you must have a preposition before you, but some speakers (particularly, AmE speakers, I think) would be more than happy with I've been waiting on you. I think in that case the motivation to also explicitly say for ages is very much stronger, but others may differ on that point. Jan 24 '17 at 14:46

As others have noted in the comments, it is often considered preferable as a matter of style to avoid reusing the same preposition in a sentence. This is not one of those situations.

I've been waiting 5 hours for him.

I've been waiting for 5 hours for him.

I've been waiting for him for 5 hours.

^ Each of these is perfectly fine in spoken English. The first sentence might be slightly preferable for written English.

Note that in informal American English, the most common way of rendering the statements in the original question would probably be something like:

I've been waiting for you for hours.

especially in spoken English.

(you might replace "for hours" here with "days," or "weeks," or "a really long time," etc., as appropriate)

I've been waiting ages for you is grammatically fine, but using "ages" with this meaning sounds a little stilted--especially to a younger American's ears.

I've been waiting you for ages.

^ this last sentence is not an option under any circumstances; when "you" is included, you cannot omit the "for" (unless you change "waiting" to "awaiting")


You are right that it's not good style to use the same preposition twice in a sentence. Sometimes it is unavoidable, of course, and so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

In this case there are two options. First, change "waiting for" to another preposition, like "waiting on". This might feel incorrect to some people, but to me it sounds fine.

Second, as FumbleFingers says in his comment, see if you can get rid of one of the prepositions. In this case you can say:

I've been waiting ages for you

Again, this is not always available so if you must repeat something, go ahead.

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