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  1. #1
    hela is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Tunisia
      • Current Location:
      • Tunisia
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    1,247

    both vs by the time

    Dear Teachers,

    1) Are Before and By the time synonyms? Are they interchangeable? If not, what is the difference between them?


    2) Are the following sentences correct? What do they mean exactly?

    a) It is strange that he should have left so early.

    b) I wish I understood what they are saying.
    c) I wish I understood what they were saying.

    Thank you for your help.
    Hela

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,970

    Re: both vs by the time

    Quote Originally Posted by hela
    1) Are Before and By the time synonyms? Are they interchangeable? If not, what is the difference between them?
    They share a similar meaning, yet they also mean different things. 'before' means, earlier than, whereas 'by the time' means, earlier than or no later than, for example

    A. I'll be home before you start dinner at 6pm.
    (earlier than 6pm, maybe 5:30, 5:45, etc.)

    B. I'll be home by the time you start dinner at 6 o'clock.
    (ealier than 6pm or at 6pm)

    2) Are the following sentences correct? What do they mean exactly?

    a) It is strange that he should have left so early.
    b) I wish I understood what they are saying.
    c) I wish I understood what they were saying.
    a) and b) are not acceptable in my dialect, so, sorry, I can't help you out there. As for c), it means, I don't understand what they are saying, but I wish I did (understand what they were saying).

    :D

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