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I need to ask someone how long does their class take time to be finished. How should I say it and which one of the following sentences is idiomatic in English language?

a) How long does your class take?
b) How long does your class take time?
c) How long does your class last?

Bringing up this question I'm going to realize the correct usage and semantic nuance of the verbs "take" and "last".

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    You can try these: "How long is your class?" "How long will your class last?" "How long will your class take?" – Damkerng T. Apr 26 '14 at 10:10
  • Hi @DamkerngT. But I do disagree. As you mentioned in you offered examples, 'last' and 'take' mean the same thing, while as far as I am concerned they do not (at least in this particular context)! So I wonder if someone could help me more. :) – A-friend Apr 26 '14 at 10:53
  • I'm sorry if my offers cannot fulfill your requirements. One thing I want to mention is that last does not exactly mean take (though obviously they are related). Again, I'm sorry if my comment makes it sound so. Also, because I can't really know your context precisely enough (someone would be able to, I'm sure), my suggestions are simply common phrases used in general occasions. – Damkerng T. Apr 26 '14 at 11:06
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    I personally think b) is odd, since we don't usually use how long with time, but how much e.g. How much time does your class take? – user1513 Apr 26 '14 at 12:40
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    I've deleted some comments. Let's please all remember to be polite to each other in comments, and try not to use them for too much extended discussion. – WendiKidd Apr 27 '14 at 1:47
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Take and Last are used to talk about the time necessary for something

Take is generally used when we are in control of the action and it suggests more active involvement: My homework normally takes me one hour everyday.

Last is generally used to talk about the duration of something and implies a more passive experience: The lessons in the school last 45 minutes each. The movie lasts 2 hours. So, sentence 'C' is correct. With "take" you could ask: "How long does it usually take you to translate three pages?" Sentence "b" is wrong.

  • It was really helpful @Vic. I got the point. ;) – A-friend Apr 27 '14 at 5:41
  • Just one more question. I would be thankful if you could answer this question too. Which one would be natural in this context and why: A: Can I talk to Steve? B: Could you please hold the line? Hes' on another call. A: Sure B: Thank you for holding sir. I think that it's going to (take / last) a while. – A-friend Apr 27 '14 at 5:45
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    "I think that it's going to take a while." "take a while" is used when a task may take a long time to complete. – Vic Apr 27 '14 at 6:57
  • @A-friend strange...what makes my answer good for downvoting! Option 'c' is correct, my very first line! option 'b' is out is also mentioned! – Maulik V Apr 27 '14 at 16:29
  • Dear @MaulikV I do not understand what you are trying to say! Could you please clarify what's your intention? :( – A-friend Apr 27 '14 at 18:21
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The idiomatic way of telling that is the option (c)

(c) - How long does your class last? - it clearly asks for the time/period--say 2 hr.

The intransitive verb 'last' is used exactly this way to mean something that continues for a particular period of time. OALD defines it on this page here (#1) with an example of How long does the play last?.

Having this said, the option (a) uses the word take for no reason and it might be considered as redundant if we stick to OALD's use of that phrase.

The option (b) is also out for the same reason. In fact, it even uses an extra word time.

Worth noting is Damkerng's comment that says How long is your class?, which also seems a correct usage.

long (adj-#4) - used for asking or talking about particular periods of time
~ How long is the course? and How long a stay did you have in mind?

  • Hi @MaulikV and thank you for the response. But my native Australian friend says me it is not possible to say that or at least it is not the way we say it. While I was thinking exactly like you my friend. Unfortunately I think there is something wrong with our common thought. :( – A-friend Apr 26 '14 at 12:18
  • what is it not possible to say that? – Maulik V Apr 26 '14 at 12:21
  • Choice 'C' is not possible. But he is not a linguist or someone who is a lot into lingual discussions. He just said it would be wrong to say that. Both 'a' and 'c'. But I didn't ask him about my choice 'b'. Is it clear now? ;) – A-friend Apr 26 '14 at 12:27
  • @A-friend If choice c is not possible according to him, surely he's a linguist challenging OALD! :) All the best. – Maulik V Apr 26 '14 at 13:30
  • I think C is possible but it's not what I'd personally choose to say. (I think the string "class last" sounds just a little bit silly.) – snailcar Apr 26 '14 at 13:50

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