Here is a conversation from a book:

Reporter: Have you just made a new film, Miss Marsh?

Miss Marsh: Yes, I have.

Reporter: Are you going to make another?

Miss Marsh: No, I'm not. I'm going to retire. I feel very tired. I don't want to make another film for a long time.

I don't quite understand the "for a long time" mean. Does it mean that "I just made film but I'm tired so I don't want to make another for a long time in the future", the "long time" here is from now to the future.

Or does it mean "Actually I didn't want to make any film for a long time", the "long time" is in the past until now.

I found some translation for this is the later option, but I feel it a little strange, and I think it might be the first. Is it right?

  • If the long time were in the past, she would probably have said "I didn't want to", meaning that her wanting is in the past. The present tense don't means that her wanting is now.
    – stangdon
    Feb 19, 2016 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


It is indeed the first. If I don't want to do something for a long time, it means that I may want to do it in the future, but not until a long time has passed. If I didn't want to make a film for a long time, that means that during some long period in the past I did not want to make a film--not necessarily until now. If I wanted to say in the past until now, it would be I haven't wanted to make a film for a long time.

Now, if I were to say I don't want to have to wait for a long time, I am in most cases saying that I do not want the period which I have to wait to last for a long time, which is something a little bit different. You can generally work out the meaning from the context provided by the specfic verb used.

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