difference "...been to/in the USA"
Thread poster: Wolfgang Feichtlbauer

Wolfgang Feichtlbauer  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 10:42
English to German
+ ...
Feb 15, 2004

Hi everybody,

I was wondering if there is a basic difference between these two sentences as some of my American friends argue.

1."Have you ever been in the USA?"
(You are in the USA at the moment.)

2."Have you ever been to the USA?"
(You are not in the USA at the moment.)


Thanks for helping me!

Wolfgang


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 02:42
French to English
+ ...
Difference between two sentences Feb 15, 2004

Dear Wolfgang:

Sentence #1 is not common usage. Grammatically it is not incorrect although it wouldn't make sense to ask this question while both people are in the U.S.A. Unless the sentence changes to "Have you ever been in the U.S.A. before?"

Another way of putting it could be, "Have you ever spent time in the U.S.A.?

Sentence #2 is definitely the most accepted way of asking this question (U.S. usage).

I am sure my colleagues will have other points of view

Bon courage,
Rita


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swisstell
Italy
Local time: 10:42
German to English
+ ...
in / to the USA Feb 15, 2004

I agree with what Rita says. I might ad that I am IN the USA i.e. live here, and I have been TO the USA many times before settling here permanently.

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jebeen
Local time: 04:42
English to Bengali
+ ...
difference between 'in the/to USA" Feb 15, 2004

Wolfgang Feichtlbauer wrote:

Hi everybody,

I was wondering if there is a basic difference between these two sentences as some of my American friends argue.

1."Have you ever been in the USA?"
(You are in the USA at the moment.)

2."Have you ever been to the USA?"
(You are not in the USA at the moment.)


Thanks for helping me!

Wolfgang


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jebeen
Local time: 04:42
English to Bengali
+ ...
difference between 'in the/been to the USA" Feb 15, 2004

(1) is grammatically not incorrect; but uncommon.
a)"in" is usually in the Present. For
example, if someone asks me in an
e-mail, "where are you? (meaning, at
Present), I have been trying to contact
you." I may reply: "I am in the US"
(Normally, I live elsewhere).

b)"I am in the US" could also mean, "I
live in the US".

(2)"..been to the US" is commonly used for such an enquiry to mean temporary visit(s)in the Past.

That is my understanding.

Regards.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:42
French to English
agree with Rita Feb 16, 2004

Q.2 would be the normal way to ask a person if they had ever been physically present in the USA, as directed to someone currently not there. There is, to my mind, no supposition regarding the expected answer, hence "yes, I went to New York for the weekend" or "yes, I lived there for 10 years" are both possible.

As Rita says, Q1 needs something else. The word "before" after it is one possibility, although that still sounds *slightly* odd to my ears, since to "go to" is nonetheless the usual preposition for a country.
"Have you been in the USA (for) long?" is another possibility (implication - that the person being asked is in the USA now).

Q1 can stand alone IF there is previous context. For example, if two people were discussing sports, you could ask Q1 as it stands, with meanings such as "have you ever been [meaning skiing] in the USA?" or "have you ever been [meaning to a soccer match] in the USA?" Or if discussing Indian food (as a random example), you could ask "have you ever been [for an Indian meal] in the USA?".
To paraphrase then, Q1 *can* be the equivalent of asking if the person has had a given experience, as implied by context, in the USA.
Hope that helps!


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Carley Hydusik  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:42
Russian to English
+ ...
Agree with Rita and jebeen, plus comment Feb 16, 2004

Sentence number two is definitely more "natural" for native speakers of US English. I also agree with the point about saying "I am in the US" if someone is trying to reach me, for example, and I am there, but don't usually live there.

By the way, native speakers of American English don't usually say "the USA" unless it refers to products that say "Made in USA" or "Made in the USA". Usually we say "The US" or "The United States", or (unfortunately, in my opinion) "America".

Thank you for even caring to discuss it!


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Wolfgang Feichtlbauer  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 10:42
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A final word...? Feb 16, 2004

Thanks a lot for your precious contributions! So the bottom line is that it is (rather) incorrect to ask someone “Have you ever been TO the United States before”, when he is actually physically present in the US while asking this question. But instead the correct question in this particular context would be: “Have you ever been IN the United States before?”

Have a nice day
Wolfgang


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 02:42
French to English
+ ...
Different question Feb 16, 2004

It is correct to ask
“Have you ever been TO the United States before”, when he is actually physically present in the US while asking this question.

or 2) "Have you ever been HERE before?" (if it is clear that here represents the country)

3) "Is this the first time you ever visited the U.S.?"

or

4) "Have you ever visited the U.S. before?"

It sounds awkward to say "Have you ever been IN" it is not incorrect, just not commonly heard in the U.S.

To is the preposition we use for travel. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we often use IN to begin idiomatic phrases like:
"in pain"
"in connection with"
"in trouble"

HTH
Rita


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xxxBombero
Spanish to English
+ ...
More complications Feb 22, 2004

Read these sentences before writing new grammatical rules, my friends.

"Is this your first time in the US?"

"Is this the first time you've been to the US?"

"Is this the first time you've been in the US?"

There is no difference between the last two sentences.


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