For the question:

How many years have you studied English?

does it mean studying English only or studying all courses in English?

  • What is the difference between "studying English" and "studying all courses in English"? This doesn't make sense to me. You can "study" a subject without being formally enrolled in a course, if that's what you mean.
    – TypeIA
    Nov 12 '19 at 21:20
  • In retrospect, this sounds like a question on some kind of application. If so, you need to find out from the specific organization you're applying to what qualifies under their definition of "study." No one here could answer that without a lot more information.
    – TypeIA
    Nov 12 '19 at 21:22

You can learn English even without taking English courses. If I'm asked this, I'd include my time with and without courses. I think if you just answer "5 years", people would just think you've learnt English for 5 years, with or without courses. You an also explicitly say "I've been studying English for 5 years at school A" to talk about just that one school.


Colloquially when someone says "they've been studying English" it usually means literature and language.

I would probably say "I have been studying the English language for N years" if I were to tell someone about just my ability to speak. Casually though both sentences can be used more-or-less interchangeably.

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