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Let's suppose I'm drawing up a list of characteristics that will help me in deciding which books I'll get rid of (not that I'm really going to do that, it's just a made-up example).

We will consider those books that:

  • have green covers
  • are paperback editions
  • have been read more than a certain amount of time ago (the exact period of time will be defined later.)

Is the expression more than a certain amount of time ago correct? What I mean here is that at the moment, we still haven't agreed upon an exact criterion (3 months, 2 years, whatever). It's like saying "more than X [days/months/years] ago".

  • Try no sooner than ... – Damkerng T. Jan 28 '14 at 14:32
  • would it be then "no sooner than a certain amount of time ago" ? What I'm after is an expression to replace the certain amount of time ago part, which can still express an undefined quantity – MdMazzotti Jan 28 '14 at 14:34
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    "no more than X months ago", "no more than a certain amount of time ago" both seem right. That said, it is a really weird criterion, because you would discard books you have recently read, and keep the ones you have not touched in years. – oerkelens Jan 28 '14 at 14:36
  • @oerkelens oh my, you're right! I meant exactly the opposite (have been read more than ...) – MdMazzotti Jan 28 '14 at 14:38
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    Then you can also go for "have not been read in the last X months" or "have not been read for X amount of time" :) (and yes, these boolean misses are common, don't worry :) ) – oerkelens Jan 28 '14 at 14:44
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I would say:

  • These books haven't been read since a certain amount of time ago.
  • These books haven't been read in a certain amount of time.
  • It's been a certain amount of time since anyone read these books.
  • It's been more than a certain amount of time since anyone read these books.

Anywhere you see "certain amount of time", you can easily replace it with "certain number of days/months/years", or with the specific time period you've chosen:

  • These books haven't been read since 5 months ago.
  • These books haven't been read in 5 months.
  • It's been 5 months since anyone read these books.
  • It's been more than 5 months since anyone read these books.

All you're missing in the sentence in your question are words like "since" or "in" that relate your period of time back to subject of your sentence (the books, or in the latter two sentences, "it" (meaning the passage of time)).

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