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What is the appropriate phrase when saying the following sentence?

1) "Quite a long time I have been waiting for her to back"

2) "Quite a long I have been waiting for her to back"

I'm asking this question, because I know about the question "For how long are you here" that is the correct rather that "For how long time are you here"

  • You can say "quite a long time" or "quite long", but not "quite a long" without "time". Either way, that phrase feels unnatural at the beginning of the sentence. I'd say "I have been waiting quite a long time for her to get back", or "I've been waiting quite long for her to get back". – nnnnnn May 22 '16 at 6:59
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If I may be so bold, I would say neither is correct.

Here is what I hear speakers say.

I have been waiting for her to be back for a long time.

I have been waiting for her to be back for quite a while.

In this context, quite and long have the same meaning and would be redundant next to each other.

I hope this helps.

  • 3
    I agree that it's more common in speech for the two clauses to be reversed, but I don't agree that quite and long are redundant. In fact, the two together can be used for emphasis, with either "time" or "while": "I have been waiting for her to come back for quite a long time." "I have been waiting for her to come back for quite a long while." (I will say that "quite a while," w/o the "long", is a common and established idiom.) – WendiKidd Sep 25 '15 at 5:43
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Certain forms of AdjP occur right at the beginning of the NP, before the indefinite article a:

[31] i. a) [How long a delay] will there be? (=> Here How long is an AdjP and in this AdjP the head adjective is long and modifier is how. The noun phrase where this AdjP occurs is How long a time)
[31] ii. b) He'd chosen [too dark a colour] (=> Here too dark is an AdjP and in this AdjP the head adjective is dark and modifier is too. The noun phrase where this AdjP occurs is too dark a colour)

[32] i. a) It seemed [such a bargain]
[32] ii. b) [What a fool] I was.

One type are AdjPs containing how, as, so, too, this or that as modifier, as in [i]. There are two adjectives that can appear by themselves in this position: such and the exclamative word what, shown in [ii].

Source - A Student's Introduction to English Grammar by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum

That is why For how long time is incorrect. The correct one is For how long a time.

In your sentence -

Quite a long time I have been waiting ....

Quite there is a PREDETERMINER. And hence it comes before the CENTRAL DETERMINER a.

The noun phrase here is - Quite a long time

The structure of this NP is -

PREDETRMINER + CENTRAL DETERMINER + ADJECTIVE + HEAD NOUN

This is perfectly fine. It's correct to write or say quite a long time. Here it's the NP that is acting as an adverbial without the need of any preposition.

One the other hand the phrase quite a long is incorrect here. This is incorrect because there is no head noun there like it's other version.

In order for this phrase to be correct we need to take out that a. Then it will be an Adverb Phrase. And quite there is an adjective, a modifier to the head adverb - long.

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Source - Macmillan Dictionary

  • The word "time" is not supposed to be without an article before it - like sky, water, and other non-count nouns? ("you wrote is correct to say: "long a time") – Judicious Allure Sep 25 '15 at 3:05
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    @Assiduous No I didn't mean that. All I meant is that it depends on the modifier of the adjective phrase. Please read my answer again, if any problem please ask me. I will try to clarify. – Man_From_India Sep 26 '15 at 8:23

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