"Tom is living in London for a month."

What does here 'for a month' mean? Does it mean,

  1. By the time when we speak, Tom has lived in London 31 days and he's spending his 32nd day. or
  2. When the time of speaking, Tom is still living in the middle of the month and he'll change the place/country after the end of month.
  • imho a month is short for 4 weeks.
    – JMP
    Mar 18, 2015 at 7:00
  • I like the answers so far - the only thing not mentioned is that the month in question is not necessarily from the 1st to the 31st; it could be any period of about 4 weeks. So… Tom [as of right now] has been in London for some unspecified time & will be leaving after a total of 30 days [approximately] has passed. It's the kind of answer used when precise dates are not required, otherwise, they would add, as necessary "… & is leaving on the 16th, at 7 am, from Heathrow terminal 5, on flight BA007..." etc Mar 18, 2015 at 9:46

2 Answers 2


Interesting question!

The second one is possible.

Tom is living in London for a month

..could be a statement somewhere in the middle of that period talking about his plan/schedule to live there for a month.

This is quite similar to say...

I'm staying here for a month (I improved it by replacing 'living' with 'staying' because it's just one month!)

This could be spoken in any given duration, on the very first day, in the middle of the period or etc...

Your first intuition does not sound okay to me. That's because if you are talking about the period of his stay/living from one time till now, it requires 'have been structure'.

Tom has been living in London for a month.

An example on NPR:

Feral cats are mingling around a van where an elderly couple has been living for a month.

If the month is already passed (as you are telling 32nd day), I'd use...

Tom has been living in London for over a month


This is an example of the present progressive tense being used to describe a temporary situation. In my opinion, the likeliest interpretation is that the speaker is referring to Tom's current living arrangements, so the month of time is likely already underway.

While not necessary or obvious from context, it's possible that we're closer to the beginning of that period too, otherwise I would've expected something like "Tom is living in London for another few weeks". Again, that can only be confirmed in context.

To Maulik's point, the first interpretation you provide is not supported by the example sentence. If Tom was indeed entering his second month in London, then we'd say:

Tom has been living in London for a month.

The use of a continuous tense here again hints that this is a temporary situation (which continues in the present). If we only wanted to focus on the fact that a month has elapsed, and we don't care whether Tom is still living in London, we could also say:

Tom has lived in London for a month.

As you can see, there is a subtle difference between the last two examples, so which tense you use would be determined by your intent.

  • There's also a slight possibility the month hasn't started yet. "I'm going on vacation for a month [after school is out]." "I'm flying to England for a month." "Tom is living in London for a month [this summer]." Mar 18, 2015 at 9:55
  • True, although that illustrates the use of the present progressive for intentions about/plans for the future. I think it's a bit different semantically, but I agree that without more context we have plenty of possibilities. I was going for what felt like the likeliest scenario.
    – RuslanD
    Mar 18, 2015 at 21:25

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