She had rented the flat some fourteen months previously.

Does it mean that she finished renting that flat 14 months ago, right? (not started to rent it 14 months ago)

  • That sounds right to me!
    – myacorn
    Dec 7, 2021 at 12:06
  • Where did you get this example from? Specifically, did you just make it up for the purpose of asking whether it would refer to her prior tenancy starting or ending? The only context in which I would find the cited text idiomatic is if she works in property rentals herself - she rented the flat to a customer 14 months ago (perhaps that tenant is still there, or perhaps one of her co-workers has rented the same flat out to another customer since then). Dec 7, 2021 at 12:17
  • (If she herself was the tenant, I'd expect She'd been renting the flat until 14 months earlier, or similar.) Dec 7, 2021 at 12:19
  • 1
    To this US English speaker, it sounds like it means "She started to rent the flat 14 months before." Renting doesn't necessary refer to the whole time period that something is rented for; it can also refer to the making of the rental agreement, like "I rented a bicycle and spent the rest of the day exploring town."
    – stangdon
    Dec 7, 2021 at 12:40
  • 1
    Likewise to this British English speaker. The sentence doesn't strike me as at all unusual and I would understand it the same way as @stangdon Dec 7, 2021 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


Sorry, but to my mind this is entirely dependant on further context - it could just as easily mean that "She" had started to rent the flat, or had finished renting the flat.

It could just as easily refer to her living in the flat, as to renting it to someone else.

We can strongly infer that there was a change of some sort 14 months ago, but even that is not entirely certain - it could theoretically be a comparison with something unrelated, and simply mean that that flat was where she was living, when a particular event occurred.


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