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What's the difference between "over this year", "during this year" and "in this year"?

For example,

Over this year, he's been able to provide a lot of correct answers in class.

During this year, he's been able to provide a lot of correct answers in class.

In this year, he's been able to provide a lot of correct answers in class.

What are the different connotations?

  • "Over" and "during" emphasize the span of time, and "in" and "on" emphasize a point in time. "Over this hour" or "during this hour" encourage you to think about the whole hour as a span of time ('I fell asleep during the 7 o'clock news.'). "In this hour" encourages you to think about an hour as one identifiable unit or designation, ('The winner was announced in the 7 o'clock news.'). – Brandin Nov 8 '18 at 7:39
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    @Brandin, why don't you add this as an answer? – Varun Nair Nov 8 '18 at 10:28
  • Sorry to point out that "over" and "during" don't emphasize spans as contrasted to "in" and "on" emphasizing points in time. As in any other context, "over" emphasizes an entire span but "during" hi-lights a smaller part. "In" and "on" emphasize somewhat similar differences but that "in" broadly relates to "during" doesn't at all mean "on" is anything like either "over" or "during". Broadly “over this year” means "considering this year as a whole" while “during…” and “in…” both mean "for some part of this year". – Robbie Goodwin Nov 8 '18 at 22:08
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This is a tricky one. But some of these just don't sound quite right.

Over this year, he's been able to provide a lot of correct answers in class.

I would change "over this year" to "over the course of this year" and I would use it to describe a process, such as:

Over the course of this year he improved in his ability to provide correct answers in class.

That suggests that the improvement was gradual but observable.

During this year, he's been able to provide a lot of correct answers in class.

This sounds right to me. It happened during the year, or throughout the year, on a day by day basis as the year was lived. It's just the way we talk where I am.

In this year, he's been able to provide a lot of correct answers in class.

This doesn't sound right; it's the kind of thing that gives you away as a non-native English speaker. "In this year" or "within this past year" is usually used to indicate when a certain event happened.

It is not used to indicate something that happened on a day-to-day basis. For example, one person might ask another, "When did they get married?" The answer might be, "They got married in this year, during the pandemic when only a few people and the minister would attend the wedding." I think that doesn't sound quite normal either and that people would say it that way only if they wished to emphasize how unhappy they were with the situation of the pandemic and lockdown. Otherwise, they would just say "this year."

I'm not sure if this answers your question. Nor can I think what more to add so I'll leave it at that for now. Let me know if you have more questions.

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    WOW! Thank you very much for these insights! Very informative. – brilliant Sep 26 at 11:53
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Compare:

"I worked over the day." (I worked throughout the entire period.) "I worked during the day." (At some period in the day, I worked.) "I worked in the day." (At some moment in the day, I did some work.)

At least, that's how I interpret the very subtle differences.

However, this is parsing for subtlety where it may not be present. There are many cases in English where the exact preposition you're using isn't going to change the meaning perceptibly. (similar questions on of/for, that/which, etc. are all over this exchange.)

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Each of these can be used for the same basic meanings. I most often think of using "over" when discussing statistical analysis of events for a time period

Over the last ten years, the crime rate has fallen by 30 percent.

"During" emphasizes the entire span or period.

The form "in" is most often used to mean sometime within the period, but perhaps not throughout it.

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