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He said he had wanted to see it for a long time

Just was wondering if wanted could fit to because at the time of writing he still had not seen the film and the action was not completed or if "for a long time" implies that the desire to see the film began a long time before he said it and obliged the author to use the past perfect. Does for a long time always emphasize the beginning of an action?

https://www.englishexercises.org/makeagame/viewgame.asp?id=8469

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The short answer is NO.

The expression for a long time refers to a period which, from the perspective of the writer/speaker, is lengthy. It is not material whether this period is anticipated (future) or over (past) or continuing (present perfect).

A person "who has been imprisoned for a long time" remains in prison as the length of the time spent there increases.

A person who had been imprisoned for a long time is no longer in prison - either freed or dead - but that period is now in the past.

Alternatively, a writer could construct a story about a prisoner who was still imprisoned, saying: He had been in prison for a long time and was looking forward to his release. Here the writer is looking back on a period in the past and anticipating the future.

A person who has wanted to see a film for a long time is still hoping, after a lengthy period of waiting, to see the film.

A person who had wanted to see a film for a long time is either expecting to see it soon or has possibly seen it since, as illustrated below.

A: He said he had wanted to see the film for many years and that it had fully met his expectations. (He finally saw the movie.)

B: He said that he had wanted to see the film for many years and couldn't wait for the cinema to open. (He is/was looking forward to seeing it.)

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  • why the meaning of" had wanted to see the film for a long time" depends on the context. In the example have seen the film very recently or is expecting to see it: 2 meanings . Why "had been imprisonned for a long time" does always imply that the person is no longer in prison . It is not logical. It should also mean that the person should also been still in prison (but very close to his liberation). In fact I'd like to now why had wanted for a long time has 2 meanings and had been imprisonned only one. – Yves Lefol Dec 19 '20 at 6:53
  • Yes, you could construct a sentence in which a writer was talking about a prisoner: He had been in prison for a long time and was looking forward to his release 'The context here allows for the use you suggest where the person remains in prison. It had not occurred to me. I will amend my answer. – Ronald Sole Dec 19 '20 at 7:40

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