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Here is a phrase that I used in a review

I have long beaten the game but I still come back from time to time to listen to this tune.

I don't know if the phrase "I have long beaten" makes sense. What I was trying to say was that: even though I beat the game a long time ago I come back to it from time to time just to listen to a particular tune.

Does the sentence convey the meaning? Should I rewrite it?

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Although I don't radically disagree with @ЯegDwight's answer, I think it's worth pointing out that I don't really endorse the idea that I have long [verbed] is "unexceptional".

In my opinion, this construction is at the very least dated and formal. I would also say that in most contexts where it is still used, it usually carries the implication I first [verbed] a long time ago, and have continuously (or repeatedly) [verbed] ever since. Thus, for example,...

1: I have long known that she would make an ideal wife (I knew that long ago, and I still know it)
2: I have long been married (where again, being married is a "continuous" state)
3: ??I have long married her (idiomatically, extremely unlikely)

...where #3 doesn't work at all well because obviously the only possible meaning is I married her a long time ago (a single "one-time" action that wouldn't/couldn't ordinarily be repeated).

To further illustrate the points I'm making here, first consider the massive drop-off in currency of I have long seen... over the past century or two. Also, have a look at the contexts where it's used. It's never used to mean I saw [had sight of something] once a long time ago. In fact, "to see" in such contexts is usually a figurative usage meaning understand, become aware of (i.e. - ever since the time when you first did it, you've been doing it continuously right up to the present moment).


In OP's exact context, obviously it's possible to see "beating" the game as a repeatable/continuous activity, but that's probably not really the intention. A more natural way of expressing what I assume OP means would be, for example,...

I [first] beat the game long ago, but I still come back from time to time to listen to this tune.

  • brilliant explanation. Thank you :) What I really wanted to do was show that even though I have beaten the game a long time ago it has stayed with me as I comeback to it to listen to a tune. But I think I will replace it with the sentence you suggested. It is more clear. Also what do you think of this sentence. "I have long defeated those who opposed me but they haunt me still"? – Akshat Jiwan Sharma May 11 '14 at 15:49
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    @Akshat: Yes, you did actually beat the game game once a long time ago. And in fact you might have continued to play, and beat it several times since then. But I suspect that from your perspective those later occasions aren't really the same thing. So even if we ignore any "dated/formal" aspects to the usage, it's still probably not the best way of putting it because of the unwanted implications of continuously/repeatedly which are far better expressed by your "but I still come back..." clause anyway. – FumbleFingers May 11 '14 at 15:56
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"I have long [past participle]" is grammatical, idiomatic, and common. The usage in your sentence is unexceptionable.

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    Mmm ... It is grammatical, idiomatic and common; but in context I'm not sure that it's right. With a telic verb it implies I have repeatedly VERBen; but I suspect OP wishes to imply only that he has beaten the game at least once. If that is the case, I have long since beaten the game would be more appropriate. – StoneyB May 11 '14 at 14:36
  • 'I have long V-ed' is equivalent to 'I have V-ed for a long time', showing continuous aspect. 'I long ago V-ed' shows perfective aspect, required here. – Edwin Ashworth May 11 '14 at 15:00
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    @StoneyB: Absolutely agree there's a strong implication of repeatedly. I don't know if verbs like know, suspect, think count as "tellic", but with those it's more the implication of continuously (once you came to know something in the past, you usually know it continuously thereafter, rather than repeatedly). For me personally, your since example sounds decidedly dated/stilted in present perfect, but far more natural in past perfect. Not sure exactly why that is. – FumbleFingers May 11 '14 at 15:02
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    @FumbleFingers Those verbs are stative, inherently imperfective. I tend to agree that a simple past is more colloquial with since (and with the past perfect, because that acts as a simple-past-in-past); but I don't find either so literary as bare "I have long known/thought/suspected". – StoneyB May 11 '14 at 15:22
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    While I don't find anything wrong with the grammar either, it still sounds funny. "Long since beaten" sounds better to me. – BobRodes May 11 '14 at 15:44

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