Consider the following sentence:

"The student did not come to the class for a long, long time."

Can a continuous time expression "for a long time" be used in this case, where past simple ("… did not come to the class") is used, or is it fundamentally grammatically incorrect?

Any alternative for saying the same?

2 Answers 2


The simple past can be used with facts or situations that exist or persist over time, or with a state of affairs. So there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the temporal phrase "for a long time" combined with the simple past.

During the flu epidemic, he did not attend classes for weeks.

  • One can, of course also use the imperfect, which is a continuous tense "During thre pandemic he was not attending classes".
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 19:11
  • Yes, but OP was asking about simple past together with "long time".
    – TimR
    Commented May 20 at 9:19

for a long time
for three months
for a week
for five hours
and others

or any expression of time with for can be used with any tense.

Consider: He won't come for a long time.
He didn't come for a long time.
He hasn't been coming for a long time.
He hasn't come for a long time.
He was coming for a long time.

And several other tenses can be used. I know of no tense that cannot be used here with these expressions of time.

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