I'm not sure about the correct phrase to say something that has to end before a specific moment. I read that it can be written as: "by + expire time/date". For instance, you can think about doing an essay that has a duty time: "you have to hand in this essay by the 16th of March/by the end of this month". Is it wrong? Thanks in advance

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    If I "have my housework done" it implies someone else is going to do it for me, which doesn't sound like what you mean?
    – Andrew
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:12
  • Of course, I agree with you. However I made two different examples to explain better my aim: understand if it is correct to say, "by + expression of time", when an activity or something else is going to finish before or exactly at a certain time.
    – johnny_kb
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:19
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    The time factor is independent of who does the work. I just want to be clear if the work has to be done by her or if she's having someone else do it.
    – Andrew
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:21
  • she's having someone else doing it.
    – johnny_kb
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:25
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    "by + time/date" is correct (like "I have to leave by five o'clock" or "the dam will be finished by Friday"), but your example about the housework sounds strange to me. I think it's because the present continous (is having) doesn't really fit with by (time). Firstly, I think a future tense would work better: she will have the housework done... Secondly, when I hear "is having it done by..." the next thing I expect to hear is who is doing it, not when it will be done by, so it makes me do a double-take and go back and reinterpret the sentence.
    – stangdon
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


You have to hand in this essay by the 16th of March.

This is grammatically correct and easily understandable.

She's having her housework done by this evening

This doesn't really work. The by is fine, but the use of present continuous doesn't work with it. You normally use present continuous about something that is happening now, or something that is happening around some specified time in the future, for example:

She's having her housework done now
She's having her housework done this evening

You can't really use it for before a specified time. For that, you should use future perfect:

She will have had her housework done by this evening.

With present perfect, the by-time is not only possible but required, so this takes precedence over the optional by-agent clause that might be expected after the passive-voice having ... done. This therefore deals with the double-take issue raised by stangdon in his comment.


The problem with this sentence is that it's easy to get confused by two overlapping constructions:

She's having her housework done = someone else is doing it

She'll have her housework done by this evening = she will finish by this evening.

Because of this confusion, if you need to imply that someone else is doing it and that it'll be done by this evening, then it's best to be verbose:

She's having her housework done, and they will be finished by this evening.

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