Please wait for another 5 minutes


Please wait another 5 minutes

Isn't "for" mandatory because 5 minutes is length of time?

  • 1
    It's syntactically valid to include preposition for in the imperative "Wait [for] a minute", said John. But as this usage chart shows, native speakers almost never do so. Offhand I can't think of a single context where you must include for between wait and a "length of waiting time" complement, so my advice is to just forget about it. If you never include for, it'll never be wrong, and will usually be more idiomatic Commented May 9 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


Isn't for mandatory because 5 minutes is length of time?


In "Please wait another 5 minutes", "another 5 minutes" is a noun phrase acting as an adverb (or to be more precise, as an adverbial prepositional phrase) to modify verbs and certain adjectives.

They produce a complement.

These constructions are known as adverbial objectives and they are common with time and distance phrases.

The Free Dictionary has examples:


“I am leaving tomorrow.” (originally = on the morrow = in the morning)

“We walked [for] an hour out of town.”

“I’ll see you [in [the]] next year.”


“I run [for] five miles every day.”

“I can barely see [for] a foot in front of me in this fog.”

  • Sometimes for sounds more idiomatic, sometimes they're equally idiomatic, but I haven't thought about it much. For example: Can you hold your breath for three minutes? sounds much better to my ear than Can you hold your breath three minutes? whereas Can you wait three minutes? and Can you wait for three minutes? sound equally idiomatic.
    – TimR
    Commented May 9 at 13:59
  • @TimR: It's a somewhat different context with hold your breath than with wait. I certainly don't think it's so easy to come up with contexts where including for after wait is "more idiomatic" than not including it, but I stand to be corrected on that point. Commented May 9 at 14:29
  • @FumbleFingers That's the point. What exactly is this "different context"? Is it that with hold your breath there is already an object, your breath? But then Can you run in place 90 seconds? sounds odd to me too and there's no object there.
    – TimR
    Commented May 9 at 14:41
  • @TimR: Well, it might be relevant that hold your breath already has "prepositionless modifier" your breath attached to the verb hold. With prepositionless modifier quietly I have no particular preference for including for or not in something like I'll just sit quietly [for] a minute, but I'd be very unlikely to include it in Don't rush me! Just hold on [for] a minute. I dunno - maybe there is no real pattern to our preferences here. Commented May 9 at 15:13
  • @FumbleFingers Could be, could be. As I said above, I haven't thought about it much, but sometimes there is indeed a strong preference for for, and sometimes none at all; it could go either way.
    – TimR
    Commented May 9 at 15:14

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