2

Today I've seen following sentence:

Note: You must redeem your free Psychonauts key by 10AM Pacific on Saturday, September 30th, 2017!

When I read it at first I thought that it should be done exactly on September 30th but before 10 AM. But the actual meaning is "at any time before Sept 30, 10 AM".

So I'd like to find out, is this sentence well-formed and means exactly the thing they wanted to say (so my first understanding was wrong), or there is a better way to say such phrase.

  • 1
    I can see how this might technically be ambiguous, but I think every native speaker would understand it OK. If they'd wanted to say that you must do it on the 30th, but before 10, they'd probably have said "You must redeem your free Psychonauts key on Sautrday, September 30th, 2017, by 10AM Pacific". – rjpond Sep 15 '17 at 18:21
2

There's nothing wrong with the sentence.

I'll split the sentence into two parts,

  1. You must redeem your free Psychonauts key by 10AM.
  2. You must redeem your free Psychonauts key by September 30th, 2017!

Two distinctly clear sentences, no confusions whatsoever.

Now the tricky part is when both of them are combined and when the punctuation comes into play.

The comma (,) is what brings about the maximum confusion in interpretation, for many people.

To bring about more clarity in the sentence, I'll restructure it as:

You must redeem your free Psychonauts key by 10AM, September 30th, which is a Saturday.

Now, what do I get from this sentence? September 30th, which is a Saturday, is the last day to redeem the free ticket, and I have to get it before 10AM, the very same day.

There are many ways to restructure the sentence, but the original sentence is perfect.

Try reading it out loud:

"You must redeem your free Psychonauts key by 10AM Pacific" (break) "on Saturday," (break) "September 30th, 2017!"

  • I understand how "by" or "before" is used. For me "on" is confusing in the phrase as I understand it as exact date. I'd expect rather "by Saturday before 10 AM" then "by 10 AM on Saturday". Do these phrases differ? Are they both correct? – Qwertiy Sep 15 '17 at 12:30
  • Oh my bad. Let me edit the answer. – Varun Nair Sep 15 '17 at 12:30
  • Nice. But then how should I say if something should be done exactly on Sept, 30 but before 10 AM? – Qwertiy Sep 15 '17 at 12:57
  • 1
    How about: "You must redeem your free Psychonauts key on Saturday, September 30th, by 10AM Pacific!" – Varun Nair Sep 15 '17 at 13:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.