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Which preposition is correct?

These pictures she painted for a month.

These pictures she painted in a month.

  • Regardless of syntax, in TIMESPAN and for TIMESPAN mean different things. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 16 '17 at 15:04
  • @StoneyB, could you explain, please? – Aharon M. Vertmont Oct 16 '17 at 15:08
  • She painted the pictures in a month means she started and finished the paintings during that timespan. ...for a month means that she worked on them during that month, but she may or may not have finished them. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 16 '17 at 16:06
  • @StoneyB, well, but the thing is that I've always considered sentences like "she painted these pictures FOR a month" ungrammatical, whereas "she painted these pictures IN a month" - grammatical. I imply that "painted pictures" is telic. – Aharon M. Vertmont Oct 16 '17 at 19:05
  • painted for a month would be unusual, but it's easy enough to conceive circumstances when it would be appropriate: "Vera has grandiose ideas but cannot execute. She conceived matched portraits of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and painted those pictures for a month, then gave up with only the horses' tails completed." – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 17 '17 at 0:35
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Both are correct but they have different meaning.

These pictures she painted for a month.

She spent at least a month painting these pictures. She may or may not have finished the job in that time.

These pictures she painted in a month.

She completed the job of painting the pictures in no more than a month.

(side note: In most contexts, these sentences would sound more natural as "She painted the pictures [in|for] a month.)

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