Session 4

Vocabulary: 13 uses of 'long'

Enjoy our version of Orpheus and Eurydice - and learn 13 different ways to use the word 'long'

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2

Activity 2

Will Orpheus ever play music again?

Will this tragic love story have a happy ending?

How do you think the story will end?

A) Eurydice doesn't follow Hades's instructions and so she has to stay in the Underworld forever
B) Orpheus doesn't follow Hades's instructions and so Eurydice has to stay in the Underworld forever
C) Orpheus rescues Eurydice from the Underworld
D) Something else 

To do

Watch the video and find out which option is correct. And listen out for five more uses of long.

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Mariam
Hello again. I'm Mariam. It's time to continue the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus and Eurydice had been blissfully married when Eurydice was bitten by a snake and died. 

So Orpheus, a remarkable musician, could no longer bear to play his lyre. Then his father, Apollo god of the Sun told him: "Orpheus, go to the Underworld. Ask Hades, who is ruler there, to let Eurydice return to Earth." "But how will I persuade him?" said Orpheus. "No one returns from the Underworld." "Your music will speak for you," said Apollo, who knew the mission would be a long shot.

Orpheus’s journey was treacherous. He hypnotised Charon, the ferryman, with his playing, to get across the River Styx, which separated Earth from the Underworld. Then he had to charm Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the Underworld.

At long last he arrived in the dark Underworld and found Hades on his throne with Eurydice beside him. "Why should Eurydice be allowed back to Earth?” asked Hades. But Orpheus just played his lyre again and Hades's gloomy face softened. "Go, Orpheus, take Eurydice." Orpheus stepped forward but Hades stopped him. "Just one condition. Eurydice must follow you. You must not look back until you have both reached Earth's light. So long as you don’t look, Eurydice will return."

Orpheus set off with Eurydice following. He longed to turn round but remembered Hades's words. As he stepped into Earth’s light, panic came over him. What if Hades was lying? He quickly turned his head. Eurydice was on the point of stepping into the land of the living. "Orpheus, what have you done!" she cried. She reached out her hand but quickly faded back into the Underworld, gone forever.

Oh what a sad ending - but I suppose Orpheus didn't do what he was told – I'm sure there's a message in there somewhere. Well, that's all for now, but I'll see you again soon. Bye for now.

To do

So, the correct answer was B) Orpheus doesn't follow Hades's instructions and so Eurydice has to stay in the Underworld forever - a tragic ending.

Now lets practise the different uses of long. Have a go at this quiz - we promise it won't take long!

What's the use of 'long'?

5 Questions

Choose the best expression with long to fill each gap.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Over to you

How was that? Now we are longing to hear a story from you! It can be a true story or an imagined one - but it must be your own original work. Try to use as many of the phrases with long as possible:

  • all day long
  • long 
  • before long 
  • last long 
  • a long way off 
  • take long 
  • long gone 
  • as long as I live 
  • no longer 
  • a long shot 
  • at long last 
  • so long as 
  • longed  

Email your story to us at learning.english@bbc.co.uk. Make sure you write 'long story' in the subject line and in your email too. Unfortunately, we can't give individual feedback, but we do read every email, and we’ll publish our favourites here or on our social media sites.

Your stories

Yana, Ukraine

When I was a child I would pay attention to my breath or look at my hand all day long. It made me happy to observe my inhalation and exhalation, my body and thing that surrounded myself. But before long I stopped doing it because my parents didn't understand my behaviour and don't accept it. At long last, when  I was 25, I find my life  miserable and there were anything that made me happy. I tried to achieve something last long. I had finished shool with excellent marks, I had 2 red diplomas, I had work that would be a work of dream for many people. But I felt unhappy and saw only a long way to nothing. I was a long way off from happiness and calm that I feel in my childhood. I longed to come back to these feelings. I decide that I could no longer bear and I had to do something with my life. I started to meditate, make yoga and ran, I knew that all this could be a long shot.  It took me a long  to learn to be at the present moment, to notice my breath, to pay attention to my willings, feelings and thoughts. I found that happiness is possible only so long as  you don't sink in thoughts about happiness and success when your mind is free and you can be fully focused on the things that you do. Now I feel great and want to practice mindfulness living  as long as I live.

BBC Learning English says:

This story is full of great examples of long vocabulary. Well done. However, be careful with last long.  Remember that this is a verb and an adverb, not an adjective. In order to use it in this way you need to say: I tried to achieve something that would last long. Secondly, there is an article in took me a long which shouldn't be there. You could either sayIt took me long to learn... or use a noun: It took me a long time to learn...
Thank you for your contribution, and keep working hard.

Next

That's the end of Session 4. In session 5, Tim's in the pronunciation workshop. Don't miss it!

Session Vocabulary

  • all day long (B1)
    continuously throughout the day

    long (A1)
    measuring a large distance between two points

    before long (B1)
    soon; quickly

    last long (B1)
    continue for a lot of time

    a long way off (B1)
    a large distance away

    take long (B2)
    need a lot of time

    long gone (C1)
    departed a large amount of time ago

    as long as I live (B2)
    for the rest of my life

    no longer (B2)
    not any more

    a long shot (C2)
    an attempt that is unlikely to succeed

    at long last (B2)
    finally; after a lot of time and/or effort

    so long as (C1)
    on the condition that

    longed (C2)
    wanted to do something very much