I think I am pretty lucky because my doctor is a very smart man. Every trip to his office is like going to medical school. He explains everything to me – the blips on the CT scan or the blops on the X-ray. He does all this in English, even though he is not a native speaker. But sometimes I get a little confused. For example, in a check up this week he mentioned “As long as I can see, you are healthy.
I’m Paul Durant From Venture English, this is 3 Minute English – a podcast in English about English for English learners.
Well that was good news, but it left me confused. You see, We use “as long as” as an idiom to mean “provided that,” or “on the condition of.” So my doctor was telling me that provided he could see, I was healthy. I knew something wasn’t quite right about that.
So, After giving it a bit of thought, I realized that my doctor meant to say “As far as I can see FROM the data you are fine.” Do you remember what he actually said? He said “As long as I can seeyou are fine. Almost the same right? So what’s the big deal?
Well, these two expressions do sound similar, but, in fact, have very different meanings. “As far as I can see” – refers to the distance I can see. As far as… the full amount, distance or extent of the subject. It implies that if there are any issues or problems, they must be far away, because they are not visible to the speaker. We use it in phrases like “as far as I know, it won’t rain today,” or “as far as I can tell, the car is running fine.” It means based on everything I know it won’t rain or the car is running fine.
So how can I use these two idioms correctly? Well just remember “as far as” means the full amount of or extent of something, As in “as far as I know”. “As long as” means “provided that” or “on the condition of.” For example “As long as we agree on the details, we can start the project.” This means provided that we agree, we can start work.
It’s easy enough to confuse these two similar idioms. But try to use them in the correct context. Your English is going to sound better.
If you have any questions I can answer on 3 Minute English, please go to our comments and questions page at venture English.com, and leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for listening. I’m Paul Durant. This has been 3 Minute English.