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Your friend is drinking (a cup of) tea. You know she'll be free after that. You want to know how long she'll be engaged in this (so that you know when she'll be free).

Please tell me which of these options are possible and which are not.

    1. How long will you be drinking your tea for?
    1. How long will you drink your tea for?
    1. How long until you've drunk your tea?
  • 4.1. How long until you've finished drinking your tea?
  • 4.2. How long until you've finished your tea?
  • 4.3. How long until you've finished?
    1. How long until you're finished?
    1. How long until you're done?

I'm particularly interested in example 1 and 2. (Please, if you decide to comment on which option is the best, be sure to have gone through the possibilities/impossibilities of the options already offered.)

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  • Neither of the first two are natural for normal contexts. They imply that drinking tea is an "extended" activity like sleeping, visiting friends, or watching a movie. Just ask When will you be free? and stop hassling her! Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 15:56
  • None of them is obviously 'wrong' (I agree with FF that (1) and (2) sound especially unnatural) - but surely you know roughly how long it takes to have a hot drink? Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:08
  • @KateBunting - I can take an hour to drink a mug of Nescafé - I quite like it when it has grown cold, much to the horror of my wife. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:22
  • 1
    I think maybe OP's example context isn't a very good one, but a common generic phrasing for this situation is Will you be much longer? That would normally imply ...because I'm waiting for you (We'll just have to hope that @MichaelHarvey is prepared to chug down his lukewarm coffee quickly, rather than make us wait another 50 minutes for it to become enjoyably stone-cold! :) Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 17:07
  • What makes #1 unnatural to my AmE ear is the specific context, since this sounds natural, if colloquial, to me: How long will you be needing the rental for?
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 18:11

1 Answer 1

1

When will you have finished [drinking] you tea? is not there. It should be. future perfect.

The how long versions are not so idiomatic though we would say:

How long will you be playing tennis?

There's nothing grammatically wrong with any of them but using them requires particular circumstances. You do not need "for" in any case. 1) and 2) might work in situations wher the speaker is being ironic.

"So, John, I've getting fed up waiting for you. How long will you be drinking that tea?" Answer: "I will have finished when the cows come home!"

4
  • Does choosing between the future simple and the future continuous have to do with whether the action has already started or not? I've heard that if an action, let's say, of repairing something has already started, you can't ask "When will they repair it?", only "When will they have repaired it?", so I wondered if I could ask "How long/much longer will you drink your tea (for)?" if the person is already drinking her tea, or only the continuous "How long/much longer will you be drinking your tea (for)?" is possible. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 10:55
  • @IlyaTretyakov First, it's: How long will you be drinking your tea. No "for". Versus: How long will they drink tea in the mornings? It's like present simple and present continuous. Same idea.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 14:19
  • I'm not a native speaker, so my language has a completely different logic for using our aspects and, therefore, comparing the difference between the simple and continuous aspect in the future and in the past is not a good idea, I believe. Please reread my previous question. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 14:25
  • @IlyaTretyakov I read brochures every day. I'm reading brochures every day. is similar to: I will read books every day [on holiday]; I will be reading books every day [on holiday]. The first states a factual intention the second emphasizes the action of reading.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 14:28

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