grammatical expression: as long as

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We have a common expression in English: “as long as”. It has the basic of meaning of “if”, but it is used in a different way from “if”. When we use “as long as”, we are trying to indicate some kind of limit. So, it means that a certain situation is ok if it stays within a certain limit. For example:

I will buy a new suit as long as it’s not over $400.

I’ll go to the party as long as you go with me.

My friend is willing to fix your car as long as you pay him for his work.

You can stay at my house as long as my wife doesn’t mind.

Sometimes “as long as” has the meaning of “since”. For example:

As long as you’re getting up, can you get me a beer from the refrigerator?

As long as you’re going downtown, is it ok if I get a ride with you?

As you can see, with the second meaning of “as long as”, the expression is usually placed at the beginning of the sentence and is used as an introduction for asking a favor of someone. In these cases, it does NOT mean “if”; it means “since”. Therefore, the speaker knows for certain that the other person is getting up or going downtown.

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