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If duration is the general term for the class of words that reference the time difference between now and the future when an event is finished (i.e. I read the book in five minutes), what is the general term for the class of words that reference the time difference between now and the past when an event occurred (i.e. I read the book five minutes ago?

Context: I am looking for the hypernym to use as a descriptor that references how long ago an event occurred with respect to the current time.

  • Temporal remoteness? – Alex_ander Aug 30 '18 at 15:58
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    Welcome to ELL.SE. As requests for help with naming are explicitly off-topic, I have edited your post to specify that you are seeking a term. As this question may not be of direct interest to English learners, you might try our sister site for advanced English users, English Language & Usage; see the guidance for single word requests. – choster Aug 30 '18 at 16:39
  • 5 minutes ago (or 5 minutes earlier, later, from now, before, after[wards] etc.) are just "special cases" of duration. Specifically, duration offset - "temporal distance" from a reference point in time (now, contextually-identified "narrative time", etc.). Linguists might call them "temporal locatives", I dunno. But "duration" is just the temporal version of "distance" in standard spatial contexts. – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '18 at 17:02
  • Who ever said that duration cannot be in the past? duration is a length of time, not a moment in time. Duration is not the general term for the class of words that reference the time difference between now and the future – Lambie Aug 30 '18 at 17:06
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    I suggest this is more a question of Linguistics rather than English Language Learning. Perhaps you'd be better asking at linguistics.se – James K Aug 30 '18 at 17:07
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Age might work, even though typically age is used in terms of days/months/weeks, or something not recent in relation to the context.

Recentness seems to be a word (or recency) that you can use if the times would typically be short.

Time ago is a short two word phrase that would work regardless of the length of time.

  • recency is not a word I would suggest to ELLers, myself. – Lambie Aug 30 '18 at 17:05
  • wouldn't it be better to say: "I was reading the book five minutes ago"? I read the book five minutes ago to me sounds like he read the whole book five minutes ago. – anouk Aug 30 '18 at 17:07
  • OP is looking for a single word. – LawrenceC Aug 30 '18 at 17:36
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If Age is too generic, perhaps elapsed time would work. It refers to the difference between any two points in time. (In many cases it is used synonymously with duration, as the two points chosen are the start and end of an event.)

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The present time: how long ago an event occurred with respect to the present time.

  • past time of occurrence [yesterday, two months ago. etc.]

duration is not about when something occurs. It's about how long it occurs.

  • On a hunch, I found a few dozen instances of "temporal localizer" in Google Books. Where now is apparently a typical example. And OP's specific context is one that does indeed depend on being associated with a specific "when" (the present moment), so it's not entirely just a matter of "How long?" As it would be in, say, a five-minute walk . – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '18 at 17:22
  • @FumbleFingers So enter it as an answer. The OP's question understands the term duration incorrectly. Five-minute walk is duration, of course. – Lambie Aug 30 '18 at 17:27

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