1. How long did you study English before you faced a burnout?
  1. How long were you studying English before you faced a burnout?

From my understanding, both are correct and natural, although 2 implies a "shorter or temporary" nature of the action. Is that true?

If we change the verb into "learn English", only the 2nd will be correct ("were you learning"), and

How long DID YOU LEARN English before you faced a burnout?

is INCORRECT because "learn" is a resultative verb and has trouble relaying regular actions without specific context (unlike "study"). Thus, we should either put it in the continuous form ("were you learning") or, alternatively, we can also deal with this problem by putting the object into plular form:

"how long did you learn LANGUAGES before you faced a burnout?"

is that last sentence correct? Which parts of my understanding are incorrect?

2 Answers 2


There is no difference between (1) and (2) as regards the length of time implied. You could also say

How long had you been studying English when you faced burnout?

I'm not sure what you are trying to say about the verb to learn. It is often synonymous with to study, as in "I am learning English", although it can also mean to acquire a skill or item of knowledge, as in "Billy has learned to tie his shoelaces". It's true that "How long did you learn English?" could sound a little odd, as learn could be interpreted in this second sense.


Yes you are correct for your first statement. You are right to say the 2nd last sentence is wrong.

The last sentence is wrong. "How long did you learn languages" makes no sense! Better to stick with the original ones you gave.

You must log in to answer this question.

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