"About 175cm" I answered.
That isn't strictly true. I'm 175cm tall; something is long if it is lying down, or at least has its longest side on the ground. A race track can be long for example, as can the horizontal measurement of a building. I, despite the long day, was standing nice and straight at the flipchart.
My client didn't seem happy with the answer either.
"No, how many years are you in Germany?"
Interesting. He was now asking about my age. In English, you do say "I am 21", not "I have 21 years". That was logical. However, your age doesn't depend on where you are, does it?
"Waldemar, a gentleman does not ask a lady her age".
"No, no!", a red Waldemar answered. "I mean how many years since you first came to Germany!"
So, he was asking how long I have lived in Germany; for how many years I have been here.
In German, when you want this information, you use a present tense. You ask "Seit wann sind Sie in Deutschland" ("since when are you in Germany").
In English, to get the same information, you have to use a tense called the present perfect. For most non-native English speakers, it looks like a past tense because it is made up of has/have and the third form (past participle) of the verb.
However, it is not a past tense, at all. In fact, it is always connected to the present - now - in some way. That's why it is called the present perfect.
Waldemar knew that I live in Germany. He wanted to know how many years it was since I had come to Germany.
Well, I have lived in Germany for 7 years.
I have lived in Germany since 2006.
Have you noticed that there are two translations of the German word "seit"? What's the difference?
If you talk about a period of time (e.g. how many years), you use 'for'.
If you reference a point in time, you use 'since' There's even a point on the second letter of 'since' to help you remember.
What about you, how long have you lived in your current town or city? How long have you worked at your current company or studied at your uni? And how long have you learnt English?