We have a sentence:

"I have been out for two hours!"

Is "for" necessary here? Can we say:

"I have been out two hours!"

I am asking because we can either ask "How long have you been out?" or "For how long have you been out?" as far as I know. And probably even "How long have you been out for?".

Does "for" change the meaning?

  • 1
    I think we need for to mark it adverbial. But, when we don't need it in "How long have you been out" because how long already mark it adverbial of duration. But this could be just my nonsense theory, though. Mar 13, 2017 at 7:46
  • 1
    I think both are fine, though personally, I'm more inclined to use the former, especially in formal, written English. In informal English, I think both are fine. I think this is more about how we just tend to cut off words in informal English :D. Mar 13, 2017 at 9:04
  • @TeacherKSHuang So you would use "I have been out for two hours!"? Mar 13, 2017 at 9:27
  • 1
    Exact-a-mundo, buckaroo! (Sorry, I had to make the minimum character quota :D.) What I had wanted to say was, "Exactly" :D. Mar 13, 2017 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


for preposition (TIME/DISTANCE)

​ used to show an amount of time or distance:

She's out of the office for a few days next week. I'm just going to lie down for an hour or so. I haven't played tennis for years.

We use for with a period of time to refer to duration (how long something lasts).

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