I have read a children's book for language learners. It's a book from the Oxford Reading Tree series. There is a character who goes to the dentist, and when she comes back home she says:

"Sorry I was a long time."

I want to ask what's the difference between:

I took a long time


I was a long time.

Is there any difference in meaning? Is this phrase

"I was a long time"

more native?

2 Answers 2


The outcome of the two statements means the same thing (a long time passed) but there is a different inference.

I was a long time.

There could be so many different reasons why you were a long time. Maybe you got delayed by something or someone, or maybe you created the delay yourself.

I took a long time.

"Take" is a verb and the action is your own. If you took a long time it implies that you deliberately took your time, perhaps lingering, taking a detour, or just acting slowly.


Well, you are not lucky with any of those sentences. None of them really makes sense in English. I assume that the first sentence was (supposed to be) actually:

Sorry, it was a long time.

But even then, it is not OK (the reason for striking it). It is going to be good if you say:

(Sorry,) it took a long time.

A correct alternative to the first sentence would be:

Sorry, I was gone for a long time.

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