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1a. This football team won the league championship 3 times over the last 5 years.
1b. This football team won the league championship 3 times during the last 5 years.
1c. This football team won the league championship 3 times in the last 5 years.

2a. This football team has won the league championship 3 times over the last 5 years.
2b. This football team has won the league championship 3 times during the last 5 years.
2c. This football team has won the league championship 3 times in the last 5 years.

3a. He achieved great success over the last 5 years.
3b. He achieved great success during the last 5 years.
3c. He achieved great success in the last 5 years.

4a. He has achieved great success over the last 5 years.
4b. He has achieved great success during the last 5 years.
4c. He has achieved great success in the last 5 years.

For these sentences, we have three choices for the preposition. How do we choose? Does the tense of the sentences (past vs. present perfect) influence the choice?

  • This question is different from the "possible duplicate". All of the examples in the "possible duplicate" are in the present perfect tense. Whereas this question specifically asks how changing from past tense to present perfect tense influences the choice of preposition. – Jasper Aug 27 '18 at 17:16
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Any of these sentences could be used without objection. Choosing between them is difficult in the absence of additional contextual data with which to inform that choice.

'The last five years'is a period of time stretching from five years ago to the present time. As this period includes the present, I would be more comfortable using the present perfect tense than the past tense. As a consequence I would prefer the answers in sections 2 and 4 over those in sections 1 and 3.

Within section 2, I think 2c is the best option. Although you have to win many games to eventually win the league championship, there is actually only one day in each year where a team can say, 'We have won the league championship.' This means that during a five year period this team could only say that on three occasions. It seems to me that three days within a five year period is better described by using in than during or over. So, I would prefer to say:

They won many games during/over the last five years.

however

They won the league championship three times in the last five years.

Using similar reasoning, I would not use in in section 4, unless the writer wants to imply that someone achieved great success once during a five year period. Instead, I think that the writer means that someone has worked hard for five years culminating in the achievement of great success.

This leaves a choice between 4b or 4c. Given a choice between over or during, I personally prefer to use over when talking about regular or continuous activity throughout a period of time. During can be used for the same purpose, but I tend to use during for activities that occurred off and on over a period of time, or for an activity that occurred for a shorter period of time during a longer period of time. So my choice would be 4c.

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