I will paint the wall in two days

Alexey86

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1. I will paint the wall in two days.

Today's Monday. I will paint the wall on Wednesday.

2a. I painted the wall in two days.
2b. I painted the wall for two days.

I took me two days to paint the wall.

Is that correct?
What's the difference between 2a and 2b?
 

Charlie Bernstein

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1. I will paint the wall in two days.

Today's Monday. I will paint the wall on Wednesday.

Yes, that's one meaning. It can also mean that it will take you two days to paint it, regardless of what day you start.


2a. I painted the wall in two days.

2b. I painted the wall for two days.

It took me two days to paint the wall.

That is pretty much what 2a means.

2b tells us how much time you spent painting it, but it doesn't tell us whether you finished.


Is that correct?

See above.


What's the difference between 2a and 2b?

See above.
That's what I know.
 

Alexey86

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It can also mean that it will take you two days to paint it, regardless of what day you start.

So, if you heard that, it would sound ambiguous to you, right? Would you ask for clarification?
 

jutfrank

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Yes, sentence 1 is ambiguous. It's highly unlikely you would need to ask for clarification because the context would make the meaning clear.
 

Alexey86

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Is there any difference between "He told me the story for a few minutes" and "He told me the story in a few minutes" in terms of completeness?

For example, the speaker said everything he wanted to say but missed some key points in the former, while the latter means he mentioned all the key points.
 
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Phaedrus

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Is there any difference between "He told me the story for a few minutes" and "He told me the story in a few minutes"?

"He told me the story for a few minutes" is very strange. It means either that he didn't finish telling you the story (he told you a few minutes of the story) or that he told the story to you cyclically for a few minutes, the story being extremely short.

"He told me the story in a few minutes" is quite normal, but still ambiguous in a contextual vacuum. The sentence means either that it took him a few minutes to tell you the story or that he started to tell you the story in a few minutes' time.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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So, if you heard that, it would sound ambiguous to you, right? Would you ask for clarification?
I might, but chances are I'd know the context.
 
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