I know duration is ok here, but is that always the word a native would choose? Is there any more natural alternative?

For example:

  • Start Time: 3ᴘᴍ
  • End Time: 6ᴘᴍ
  • Duration: 3 Hours

I came across some alternatives, such as time or simply hours.

I ask because I’m deliberately calquing duration straight out of my native Portuguese, where we would say duração here, and sometimes when we do that the result is a much fancier or less common term in English than it had been in Portuguese.

  • 2
    Welcome to English Language & Usage. You could improve this question by citing a dictionary reference for duration and why you think it might not work.
    – rajah9
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 13:26
  • @rajah9 I speak portuguese, we have a similar word here for the same word - Duração - and usually beginners at english tend to interchange 'ção' for 'tion' when trying to come with a term they don't know. It's a trick that works 30% of the time, most of them are old words that no one uses more (almost a joke), that's why I got suspicious
    – nluizsoliveira
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 13:36
  • 5
    @nluizsoliveira Hello and welcome to EL&U. Without taking sides in the argument, I’d like to note: 1. Your question is clear - you have a word that you weren’t sure was idiomatic in modern English, and wanted to check. 2. EL&U started a sister community for language learners, called English Language Learners. EL&U itself aims to be for questions about the language that proficient speakers ask each other (though we welcome all relevant questions that have been sufficiently well-researched and articulated, or are otherwise interesting to proficient speakers). 3. No rep points are earned in the comment section.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


Duration means "the length of time during which something continues." (Oxford) And that is exactly how you are using it here.

The alternatives you suggest have different meanings, so are less appropriate. Checking a thesaurus doesn't suggest any simpler term with the same sense in this context. "Duration" is a correct word to use.


"Duration" is probably the best generic term and the most specific or precise term for what you want to say, but it still may not be the most natural or idiomatic term in all or even most contexts.

For example, we would be more lkely:

  • to refer to the length of an appointment rather than its duration
  • to refer to the length or runtime of a film rather than its duration
  • to refer to the length of a Spanish course rather than its duration
  • to refer to the length of a prison sentence rather than its duration
  • to refer to the length of our working day rather than its duration.
  • "Duration" feels more formal. If I was talking informally about a movie or meeting, I'd definitely say "length".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 10:21
  • Me too (that's pretty much what I said), but the OP gave no indication of the context.
    – rjpond
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 10:38

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