Here is a point that can be confusing, even for native English speakers. Take a look at this example sentence:
- I can cook dinner in twenty minutes.
This sentence actually has two meanings, because we use in + a time period two different ways. Let’s look at this grammar today.
You can use in + a time period to talk about a future point in time.
- I can cook dinner in twenty minutes. This means, twenty minutes from now, I can begin cooking dinner.
- I am going on vacation in one month. One month from today, I am going on vacation.
- Jack said he will be here in an hour. Jack will arrive one hour later.
You can use in + a time period to talk about the amount of time that is required to do something. In this case, in + a time period means within. When we use in + a time period with this meaning, we generally do so when we talk about ability.
- I can cook dinner in twenty minutes. This means, within twenty minutes, I can cook dinner. In other words, I am a pretty quick chef!
- I usually reach my office in 45 minutes. My commuting time is 45 minutes.
- I can finish the report in about two hours. I only need two hours to complete the report.
Can you cook a mean in 20 minutes? Can you reach your school or office in 30 minutes?
Keep in mind the best way to remember this or any vocabulary in English is to take the word or phrase write it in a sentence that’s true for you or true in your world and then memorize your sentences.
You can even take your sentences and write them in the comments below. I would love to see your examples. And if you really want help with vocabulary, sign up for my free vocabulary workshop (see below).
If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!
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