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    #1

    In the back or At the back of one's mind

    Is the use of IN or AT interchangeable or do we decide based on the sentence context?

    For example,

    1) She's been having this idea at/in the back of her mind for a long time.

    2) She put her disappointment in/at the back of her mind.

    3) In the second sentence, can "to" be used in place of in or at?

    Thank you!

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    b1) She's had this idea at the back of her mind for a long time.

    2) She put her disappointment to the back of her mind.

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    #3

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    b1) She's had this idea at the back of her mind for a long time

    - I thought that due to the words "for a long time" (my understanding being "it has continued till this day"), I then have to use "has been". Is it incorrect to use has been?

    - I don't understand why "had....this idea..." can be used in this sentence, due to the presence of the words "for a long time". Could it be that my understanding of "for a long time" (to me, it's like a synonym of sorts for "since some time ago") is incorrect? Please advise.

    Many thanks!

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    "She has had..."

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    #5

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    Is this sentence incorrect?

    - She has been having this idea at the back of her mind for a long time.

    Thank you!

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    It's not natural.

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    #7

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    My apologies, I don't mean to irritate....Is there another way of explaining it because I don't know what is "not natural" about it. What is the "not natural"?

    1) She has been having --> In this context, I understand it as a desire that a person has been having/holding for some time till present/now.
    - Is this right?

    2) for a long time ---> I understand it as from sometime in the past till now.
    - Is this right?

    Many thanks!

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    #8

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    It's understandable, but a native speaker wouldn't say it. That's why it's 'not natural'.

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    #9

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    **** Not a teacher ****

    I also thought it is ok to use 'She has been having these this idea...', till I found that it is does not sound natural.

    A parallel (or similar) sentence came to my mind which 'sounded' ok to me (in my head but then I am used to Indian English) - She has been having recurring dreams ....

    I did a quick search on Google and I found the sentence "Michelle has been having a recurring dream for the past four months, and during a session ..." in some quiz or test on psychology. A quick look at the website indicated that it is in the US (SEMO - Southeast Missouri State University). So, now I am wondering if it is used in AmE but not so much in BrE.

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    #10

    Re: In the back or At the back of one's mind

    If you have an idea at the back of your mind, it stays there. It's not like having dreams. It's not a parallel.
    You can say "She been having frequent thoughts of a holiday lately (intermittent conscious thoughts). She only has these conscious thoughts sometimes, but the idea is always in/at the back of her mind. It's only by virtue of being continually at the back of her mind that it can become conscious occasionally. That's why we call it "at the back" of her mind. It's there continuously, but she's not focussed on it continuously.

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