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On October 20, he will have been dead for 28 days.

Can this be rewritten as:

On October 20, he will have been dead for 2 days shy/short of a month.

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  • 1
    In English we say On October 22 he will have been dead (for) 28 days.
    – TimR
    Oct 10, 2018 at 21:26
  • But a month isn't always 30 days. February has 28 days, for instance. (Except every four years, when it has 29 days.) And the other half of the months have 31 days. So you really can't say 2 days shy of a month and have it be meaningful. Oct 11, 2018 at 3:29

3 Answers 3

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It makes more sense, most of the time, to change the date so that you're talking about a tidy period of time: a whole month, a whole year, and so forth. In this case, advancing it two days seems reasonable.

On October 22, he will have been dead for a month.

However, there are some cases in which the date you're discussing is important for some other reason. For example, talking about the recent death of a father in the context of the wedding of his daughter that will happen on (say) October 20th, it would make no sense to try to change the date around. In this case, specifying the exact number of days (or, if possible, weeks, months, etc — the largest unit of time that you can) is usually the best approach.

But you can refer to approximate spans of time in two other ways. One is just to say "almost a month" or "nearly a month". The other is to use "shy" in the sense in the question, but turned around:

On October 20, he will have been dead for two days shy of a month.

This is a somewhat quirky usage, though, and for something as serious as a death you probably don't want to use it.

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Normally, you wouldn't want to use "month" unless it was a one-month anniversary. For example, there is nothing wrong with saying:

On October 20, he will have been dead for one month.

assuming he had died on September 20.


If you are talking about 28 days, though, it seems like the best way to say this would be:

On October 20, he will have been dead for four weeks.

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  • It's just in my 1st language we can include the word month when we express an incomplete month, so I just wanted to know if that was possible in English too. Thanks a lot @J.R
    – Sara
    Oct 10, 2018 at 21:34
  • @Sara - You can indeed use the word month to mean "almost a month," although you might qualify it by saying something like, "nearly a month," or, "around a month," as in: He has been dead four about a month. It would be unusual, though, to clarify that by specifying the exact number of days in either direction. (I'm not saying it's never done, I'm just saying that "about a month" will usually suffice.)
    – J.R.
    Oct 11, 2018 at 14:21
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28 days is a lunar month, but it would be a very strange thing to want to say unless there were some special significance in that fact.

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  • Thank you. Is it strange because of 28 days? I mean if it was he would have been dead for a month short of 5 days, would it still be strange? or do you mean by strange the part "month shy/short of"?
    – Sara
    Oct 10, 2018 at 21:31
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    There are what one might loosely called anniversaries that people take note of: it is six months to the day since he and I got together, grandfather died 28 years ago this very day etc. What struck me as strange is the focus on 28 days since the person died. What is so special about 28 days? Maybe you wrote yesterday that it was 27 days. Maybe you will write tomorrow that it is 29. If so, fine. I merely comment that it is very unusual in my experience for the 28th day since something to be remarked upon.
    – JeremyC
    Oct 10, 2018 at 21:48

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