Results 1 to 9 of 9
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 163
    #1

    By certain time VS before certain time

    Are these two sentences interchangeable?
    Don't worry - we'll finish the project BY Christmas.
    Don't worry - we'll finish the project BEFORE Christmas.
    Or they are slightly different?
    The same:
    Yes sir, you must leave BY 8 o'clock a.m.
    Yes sir, you must leave BEFORE 8 o'clock a.m.
    Last edited by northpath; 03-Sep-2016 at 16:13.

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,820
    #2

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    Assuming Christmas refers to 25 December, 'by Christmas' and 'before Christmas' mean 'on 25 December at the latest' and 'on 24 December at the latest' respectively.
    'By 8 am' and 'before 8 am' mean 'at 8 am at the latest' and 'at 7:59 am at the latest' respectively.
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Boris Tatarenko's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation

    • Join Date: May 2013
    • Posts: 1,099
    #3

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    I'd say "we'll have finished the project by Christmas". Is it OK?
    Please, correct all my mistakes. I should know English perfectly and if you show me my mistakes I will achieve my dream a little bit faster. A lot of thanks.

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,838
    #4

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    Quote Originally Posted by Boris Tatarenko View Post
    I'd say "we'll have finished the project by Christmas". Is it OK?
    It's correct, as is the original.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,820
    #5

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    Quote Originally Posted by northpath View Post
    8 o'clock a.m.
    I would write either '8 am' or '8 o'clock in the morning'.
    See http://www.eslcafe.com/grammar/telling_time04.html
    I am not a teacher.

  5. Boris Tatarenko's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation

    • Join Date: May 2013
    • Posts: 1,099
    #6

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    It's correct, as is the original.
    How is it even possible? Is there at least a slight difference between them?
    Please, correct all my mistakes. I should know English perfectly and if you show me my mistakes I will achieve my dream a little bit faster. A lot of thanks.

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 24,479
    #7

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    In this context, there's no difference between

    'Don't worry — we'll finish the project by Christmas'

    and

    'Don't worry — we'll have finished the project by Christmas'.

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Nov 2013
    • Posts: 7,820
    #8

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    I found a difference in the following context:

    1. 'We'll finish the project when you arrive.' ── We'll finish it immediately after you arrive.
    2. 'We'll have finished the project when you arrive'. ── We'll finish it before you arrive.
    I am not a teacher.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 1,741
    #9

    Re: By certain time VS before certain time

    Different prepositions have different uses.

    by can be used to talk about time limits, such as deadlines. With this usage, the sentence means any time between now and a specified point in the future at the latest (Christmas).

    before is simpler. It's really just a way to sequence events along a timeline. It means not after Christmas, i.e. finish the project first, then Christmas.

    You can see that there is a clear overlap of temporal meaning (they both mean before Christmas), but the better choice of preposition, in this example, will depend on the intended meaning of the speaker. I'd say it's most likely to be by as projects often come with deadlines.

    Don't think about the meaning of prepositions. Think about the use, and how that use can help speakers say what they mean.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 21-May-2015, 20:13
  2. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Jan-2015, 13:13
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 27-Jun-2014, 13:36
  4. [Cover Letter] long time reader, first time poster: please check my cover letter!
    By sssupersssnake in forum CVs, Resumes and Applications
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 29-Jul-2013, 21:09
  5. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-Jul-2013, 15:27

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •