Imagine that I'm talking to my friend. That's the dialog is very casual. Can I say

I haven't been long as a programmer.

in the sense that I work as a a programmer not very far. Is it suitable for informal discussion?

  • I think in any case you should replace I with it..Because "you" cannot be long but a date or a span of time can be..so I think you can say " it hasn't been a long time since I started to work as a programmer" but I am not sure how can we make it informal because I am not native speaker of English
    – Mrt
    Apr 16, 2016 at 14:14
  • The idiomatic standard form is I haven't been a programmer long. It's also perfectly acceptable to say for long, but in practice people usually don't include the superfluous preposition, regardless of whether the state being referred to is a noun (a programmer) or an adjective (married). Apr 16, 2016 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


I haven't been long as a programmer

This sounds like you are not very tall when you are a programmer, or something. The correct idiom is

I haven't been a programmer for long.

  • Yes, but... if you compare 5 hits in Google Books for I haven't been a member for long against 34 hits for the "prepositionless" version, it's clear that the idiomatic standard is not to include the preposition. That's even clearer if you run the same check on an adjectival context like I haven't been married long. Apr 16, 2016 at 17:20
  • @FumbleFingers, agreed about the optional preposition... but the word order? long following the adjective is maybe six times more common than long following been. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 16, 2016 at 17:29
  • @Java It seems very strange to me (a non native speaker) that long is used for human height. I don't think I have found similar usage earlier, so asking you if this usage is at all correct. Apr 17, 2016 at 0:17
  • @Man_From_India, It's not common but it is possible. There are songs by Robert Blackwell and later the Beatles called "Long Tall Sally". The name was adopted by a women's fashion chain store for tall women. There is also a pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson's book "Treasure Island" called Long John Silver. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_John_Silver
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 17, 2016 at 4:46
  • @Java: I think the "proper" place for long has always been adjacent to the relevant noun/adjective (immediately before or after). Have a look at this NGram,.. Apr 17, 2016 at 14:58

If you wish to emphasize on the time period, it would be best to use

I haven't spent a lot of time programming.

Otherwise the construct mentioned before is also great.


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