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I found information that claims natives prefer to say "the whole day" rather than "for the whole day". Since then, I've been wondering what the situations are in which a speaker is more likely to say "for the whole day"? The variant isn't incorrect, so are there any situations in which it is needed?

I assume we use "the whole day" to indicate only the period of time, something like having experienced something for a period of time. And the second phrase ("for the whole day") implies something that the person wants to draw attention to as an ongoing action or situation. For example, a recent graduate gets a job and is proud of it, is proud of how much time it has taken.

"I have been developing our summer photos the whole day".

Am I right? I would be very grateful if you could give me some examples.

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    You need to provide a context. It cannot be decided without a full sentence, since both are valid in different contexts. – Lambie Mar 18 '17 at 15:22
  • @Lambie, this context. – Anthony Voronkov Mar 20 '17 at 14:22
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    Though all the day is not exactly incorrect, it's much more common to say all day. – Damkerng T. Mar 20 '17 at 14:32
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    They mean the same thing and although I could go through a grammatical explanation, is it worth it? Think of FOR and SINCE with work: work for three days, work for two hours. versus: work a/one day, work a/one week. whole can also be entire. But the word whole doesn't make the difference. – Lambie Mar 20 '17 at 14:42
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Both the whole day and for the whole day are correct in the following sentences and they essentially mean the same thing.

I would be tired for the whole day.

She was silent the whole day.

Both the whole day and for the whole day here mean that throughout the period of a complete day.

Some select Noun Phrases (NP), and they are very limited in number, can act as a time adjunct. the whole day is one of them. So in this case, it doesn't matter, for a time adjunct whether you use the bare NP, or a Preposition Phrase with the same NP as the complement of a head preposition (for example: for the whole day).

  • @AnthonyVoronkov you're welcome :-) happy to help! – Man_From_India May 12 '17 at 18:19

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