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General Writing and Grammar Help/RE: Away, on vacation, off, off work, off duty

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Question
Dear Ted:

Regarding the sentence below, you wrote the following:

*** All are correct, and all SEEM to have the same meaning --- that you were away from your work for six weeks.

1) I have been AWAY for six weeks.

2) I have been ON VACATION for six weeks.

3) I have been OFF for six weeks.

4) I have been OFF WORK for six weeks.

5) I have been OFF DUTY for six weeks.

My questions are these:

Let's take, for example, sentence #2 "I have been on vacation for six weeks." Does this sentence suggest that my vacation is now over or does it suggest how long I have been vacationing, that is, six weeks? In other words, doesn't the above sentence suggest that I'm still on vacation? Also, does this suggestion apply to the other sentences or the real question to ask is when or in which context they are used? In short and for instance, does sentence #2 answer the question "Where have you been?" or "How long have you been on vacation? / How long have you been vacationing?"  

Thank you very much for the help.

Paolo

P.S. Ted, Would you PLEASE, PLEASE check if what I have written in this message is correct and natural?

Answer
Dear Paolo:


*** All are correct, and all SEEM to have the same meaning --- that you were away from your work for six weeks.

1) I have been AWAY for six weeks.

2) I have been ON VACATION for six weeks.

3) I have been OFF for six weeks.

4) I have been OFF WORK for six weeks.

5) I have been OFF DUTY for six weeks.

My questions are these:

Let's take, for example, sentence #2 "I have been on vacation for six weeks." Does this sentence suggest that my vacation is now over or does it suggest how long I have been vacationing, that is, six weeks? In other words, doesn't the above sentence suggest that I'm still on vacation? Also, does this suggestion apply to the other sentences or the real question to ask is when or in which context they are used? In short and for instance, does sentence #2 answer the question "Where have you been?" or "How long have you been on vacation? / How long have you been vacationing?"

*** "Have been on vacation" is an example of the present perfect tense.  That tense is used to show an action that began in the past BUT continues right up to the time of speaking -- the present.

We know that this person's vacation STARTED six weeks ago.  We also know that -- as of right now -- he is still on vacation.  There is no evidence given about when his vacation will end.

If his vacation is now OVER, we would use this sentence:  I WAS ON VACATION for six weeks.
And, yes, this explanation applies to the other sentences, all of which use the present perfect tense.

*** What you have written is correct and natural.  I am very impressed with your "punctuation knowledge."  Many people are confused when it comes to punctuation.  You are outstanding!

Ted  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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