I've gone through many threads here trying to find the answer, but to no avail.

Cambridge dictionary states: We use time to refer to what is measured in seconds, minutes, hours and years as a whole. In this sense it is uncountable:

Ex: Children nowadays spend more time watching TV than playing. (spent many hours)

So my questions is, how is the meaning in the sentence above different from, say, "I've spent a long time doing that"? (spent many hours) Can't we say "much time" in that sentence?. Which would mean the same, but then it'd be uncountable.

I just can't understand why "time" considered to be "countable" in a sentence like that.

"I've been there many times" = on many occasions. Here, it's clearly countable. So it is in "I've played football for a long time", but we can't really say "I've played football for a long occasion", can we? Hopefully I'm not asking something stupid..

  • A long time is a continuous period; much time need not be. Commented May 31, 2020 at 19:34
  • Because in a long time, time is not being used in the same uncountable sense as. The only reason we don't say for a long occasion is that it's arbitrarily unidiomatic in that context, not because it's an noncountable noun. Commented May 31, 2020 at 23:10

1 Answer 1


When we talk about the amount of time (number of hours/days etc.) required to complete something, time is usually uncountable.

But in expressions like a long time or a short time, the word time is used as a countable noun.


We can use such a/an with a singular countable noun : "We had such a good time together".

On occasion, on three occasions, on several occasions, on the occasion of something, for the occasion, for many occasions etc. are idiomatic; but "for a long occasion" is unidiomatic.

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