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Question spend or stay?

hirashin

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Hello, native English speakers,
Which sounds correct? If all sound correct, is there a difference in meaning?
(a) How many hours did you spend at the museum?
(b) How many hours did you stay at the museum?
(c) How many hours were you at the museum?

Hirashin
 

Michael2

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I would say they could all be natural if you changed "How many hours" to "How long", or "How much time" for (a)
 

mdchachi

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Hello, native English speakers,
Which sounds correct? If all sound correct, is there a difference in meaning?
(a) How many hours did you spend at the museum?
(b) How many hours did you stay at the museum?
(c) How many hours were you at the museum?

Hirashin
All sound correct and no significant difference in meaning.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, Michael2 and mdchachi.
I would say they could all be natural if you changed "How many hours" to "How long", or "How much time" for (a)
Do (b) and (c) sound right as they are?
 

mdchachi

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Thanks for the help, Michael2 and mdchachi.

Do (b) and (c) sound right as they are?
They are fine in my opinion. I agree “how long” is more natural conversation but there’s nothing wrong with “how many hours.”
 

Michael2

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Well grammatically not but semantically it's odd because you are assuming the answer, which would be fine if you knew the answer was given in hours like if you asked "How many hours is it from Japan to London?"(by plane) but the answer to how long someone has spent in a museum is by definition unknown and could be anything from "not long" to "10 minutes" to "About half an hour" to "We left almost immediately". You hear "How many days did you stay/were in/did you spend?" because that is the unit you expect in the answer, but never "How many hours.."
 

mdchachi

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Well grammatically not but semantically it's odd because you are assuming the answer, which would be fine if you knew the answer was given in hours like if you asked "How many hours is it from Japan to London?"(by plane) but the answer to how long someone has spent in a museum is by definition unknown and could be anything from "not long" to "10 minutes" to "About half an hour" to "We left almost immediately". You hear "How many days did you stay/were in/did you spend?" because that is the unit you expect in the answer, but never "How many hours.."
If you assume some context where hours makes sense than it makes sense. For example, what if you were at the museum to do a job and getting paid hourly and the bookkeeper asked you how many hours you were there so they could bill the client accordingly?
That's the approach I take when answering his questions if it's not clearly wrong or unnatural.
Even without my imaginary context if somebody asked me how many hours I was somewhere, I wouldn't think twice about it.
Of course the underlying context is that I've been gone for a number of hours or the person asking the question thinks I was there for several hours. As you said, it doesn't make sense if there is an assumption that I may have only been there a few minutes.
 

Michael2

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Yeah absolutely I agree so long as you can think of a context then it would be fine, but I think the phraseology in your example would be different. I would say "How many hours did you do at the museum?" as with the examples that Hirashin gave it's a lot more of a casual situation than doing some work.
 
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