I am not a native English speaker, so I am confused about the simple sentence below.

I have lived in the land of Israel for at least half of the year over the last decade.

What does it mean? Does the speaker lived in Israel for a minimum of half a year (.5 years) last decade or (10.5 years)? Please explain it to me. Thanks.

  • 3
    The writer of that sentence is obviously also not a native English speaker and is just as confused about that sentence as you are. That sentence is so poorly constructed that it's impossible to discern what it means. Maybe it means that in the last 10 years, the speaker has lived in Israel only six months. Maybe it means that over the past 10 years, the speaker has spent half the year every year living in Israel, meaning the speaker has effectively lived in Israel five of the past 10 years. There's no way to know which, not without asking whomever said it what they meant. Commented May 6, 2021 at 0:53
  • This is a translation? Half of the year does not usually mean a total of 6 months, but half of each year, roughly. Commented May 6, 2021 at 1:03
  • 2
    In my opinion they probably meant to say "half of each year". That doesn't necessarily mean six months continuously there each time, it could be several shorter periods spread out within each year but totalling at least half of each year.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 1:51
  • It would be helpful to know where this sentence is from - see the "Details. Please!" post on English Language Learners Meta for more explanation of why.
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 13:26
  • 1
    The land of Israel sounds Biblical.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


I have lived in the land of Israel for at least half of the year over the last decade.

The word "over" in this sentence means Through the period or duration of: records maintained over two years. and NOT More than in degree, quantity, or extent: over a thousand dollars.

The definite article in front of "year" is the first clue that tells us the author meant that for the last decade they have spent at least six months (maybe more) of each year in Israel. If the author had written "at least half a year" we might think they meant six months over the last decade instead of six months every year. I interpret "half the year" as half of each year of the last decade. I would interpret "half a year" as six months and it would be less clear whether they meant each year of the decade or just six months total.

The second clue is "at least" and the use of "over" the last decade. The context tells us that the author is trying to impress us with how much time they have spent in Israel. Six months in ten years doesn't seem like a lot of time. At least 6 months (maybe more) every year for the last decade seems like much more time. Someone who visited a place every year for 6 months would probably know a lot about it. If they had lived in Israel six months in the past ten years, they might have written "only half a year in the last decade".

A more idiomatic way to express the same thing:

I have lived in Israel at least six months of every year for the last decade.

  • Thank you for your explanation. I think you got the correct point because I know the author was living in Israel for a long time. I was just confused with the sentence. Commented May 8, 2021 at 15:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .