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There are two sentences below

  1. I have played soccer for a long time.
  2. I have played soccer in a long time.

What is the difference between the two sentences above in meaning? Please, tell me.

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I was about to upvote Tromano's answer when I noticed that the OP's examples are both in the positive form. If they had been in the negative:

  1. I haven't played soccer for a long time.
  2. I haven't played soccer in a long time.

There would be no difference in meaning. If both sentences had been in the Past Simple, there would be no difference in meaning

  1. That was the best restaurant I've been to for/in a long time (= a long period has gone past since I went to such a good restaurant).

But the OP's sentences are in the Present Perfect tense, and only the first one is idiomatic. The second is not.

  1. I have played soccer for a long time. (RIGHT)
  2. I have played soccer in a long time. (WRONG)

The Present Perfect is often used to express a duration of time, an action that began in the past and continues to the present time. To say how long something has continued we use for, to say when the action began we use since.

  1. I have played soccer for twenty years (=I have played this sport for a total of 20 years)

  2. I have played soccer since 1998 (=I started playing the sport in 1998 and I have not stopped playing)

Cambridge dictionaries defines this meaning of time as

time

noun (PERIOD) a particular period of time for which something has been happening, or that is needed for something

  • After a time, it became clear that nobody was interested in coming to the meetings.
  • They stayed with us for a short time.
  • That was the best restaurant I've been to for/in a long time (= a long period has gone past since I went to such a good restaurant).
  • It was some time ago that I last heard from her.
  • We're going on holiday in two weeks' time
  • "That was the best restaurant I've been to for/in a long time" - I'd argue that "for" would be incorrect here, and "in" would be correct. – V2Blast Mar 12 '18 at 3:20
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If you began with soccer as a small child, and now you are in your thirties, you could say I have played soccer for a long time.

If you injured your ankle and required surgery, and then your recuperation lasted a year, during which time you were walking with crutches, you could say I have not played soccer in a long time.

  • Just my guess ))) : first, I have not played soccer for a long time is also possible for the situation, isn't it? second, there is a lack of a quantifier in your example, imo, thereby it sounds a bit stilted (?). Wouldn't I have not played soccer once in a long time be better? – Mv Log Mar 11 '18 at 13:15
  • You should not infer from my answer that the negative was impossible with for merely because I did not list it there. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 11 '18 at 14:01
  • @Mv Log: I cannot recall whether you're a native speaker or not. But I haven't played soccer in a long time is not at all stilted. It is perfectly idiomatic. Your suggestion "I have not played soccer once in a long time" is borderline idiomatic. You'd want to say even once or --not even once-- I have not played soccer -- not even once -- in a very long time. But that wouldn't suit the scenario I presented, where the man is on crutches. Would you expect him to have tried to play? And neither addition, even once, or --not even once--, is needed. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 11 '18 at 14:13
  • I haven't been to London once in a long time is not really idiomatic. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 11 '18 at 14:15
  • No, I'm not ))) that's why I've got sometimes rather weird impressions of locutions which are fully idiomatic for a native speaker. I agree that even once is much bettter than just once. Perhaps, that's what is meant in your example, sort of omission\ellipsis = I have not played soccer (even once) in a long time ? And sure, that might be said after the completion of the recuperation, not standing on the crutches. As regards London, what about such a variant: Not once I've been to London in a long time (so everything here seems unfamiliar to me now.)? – Mv Log Mar 11 '18 at 14:47

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