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Last updated at 11:01 BST, Tuesday, 28 July 2009

In ten months / after ten months

They’ll have travelled through 20 countries in ten months

'They’ll have travelled through 20 countries in ten months'

A question from Zoe in Taiwan:
Could you explain the difference between ‘after 10 months’ and ‘in 10 months’?

Trudi Faulkner-Petrova answers

Click below to hear the answer:

Zoe thanks for sending in your question.

Well, as a preposition of time, ‘in’ here talks about a period of time, ten months, no more, no less than that time. The actual meaning of this phrase ‘in ten months’ is ‘within ten months’. Here are some examples of things that will occur within the set period of time indicated by ‘in ten months’:

In ten months, I’ll be 30 years old.
(This sentence means ten months in the future from now, not more than that.)
They’ll have travelled through 20 different countries in two continents in ten months.

So what about the expression ‘after ten months’? Well this usually means in 11 months or more. This phrase implies ten months have to pass ahead of the time of speaking and it's any time after those months have passed that we are referring to. Here are some examples to clarify:

I’ll change jobs after ten months here.
After ten months, I won’t need to take any more medication.

‘After ten months’ can refer to future time, like in the examples I just gave you, or refer to past time like this:

She studied Spanish twice a week at evening class and, after ten months, she could speak fluently.

Although ‘in ten months’ usually refers to an event that will happen ten months from now, it can also be used in the past. An example is:

I learnt to drive and passed my test in ten months - which means driving was learnt within a ten month time frame. But personally, I learnt to drive in three months.

OK, well I hope this explanation helps you to understand the difference now Zoe!

About Trudi Faulkner-Petrova

Trudi Faulkner-Petrova

Trudi Faulkner-Petrova has a BA (Hons) in English, Bsc. in Psychology and Cert.TESOL. She has been teaching EFL, EAP and Business English in international schools, businesses and universities in Beijing over the last 10 years. Currently, she is a freelance tutor for ESOL, English Literature, SAT/TOEFL preparation and also works for the British Council as an IELTS and BULATS examiner. She is in the final year of studies for an Msc. in Psychology.


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