I just realized that both seems to mean the same thing. However, I am not sure if this is something that's context-dependent or not. What do you think?

For example:

I pressed and used the buttons at the right time and in the right combination.

I pressed and used the buttons at the right time and with the right combination.

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    Improvement-- change "in the right time" to "at the right time". "At" is the correct preposition to use. – Don B. Mar 30 at 3:46
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    Further to the comment by @DonB., I read the example sentences as referring to a rhythm game, for which "in time" (meaning "to a particular rhythm or beat") would be correct. If you didn't mean this, then "at the right time" is correct. – Tim Pederick Mar 30 at 3:52

Interesting question! I've never thought about this before.

This might depend on the individual and the dialect, so I will only be answering for myself and Australian English.

In a combination is used to describe a series of actions (for example, pressing buttons) being done in a particular order. The actions themselves are the combination.

I pressed the buttons in the right combination.

With a combination is used to describe an action (for example, opening a lock) that needs to use a combination (a particular sequence). The action is not part of the combination.

I opened the lock with the right combination.

So in your question, "in the right combination" is correct.

  • I think these are slightly different senses of the word "combination"; the former is a synonym for "order," but the latter is a synonym for "code." – Brian McCutchon Mar 30 at 7:42
  • @BrianMcCutchon: You could make that argument, but you could equally say that a "combination" in the sense of code is a specific order of numbers/buttons/whatever. (Which is, I guess, the origin of the "code" sense.) And "with a combination" could be used with other, non-"code" senses of the word ("with the right combination of flavours", for example). – Tim Pederick Mar 30 at 8:00

I suggest using I pressed and used the buttons in combination with right time and right combination. If you'd like to use with the right combination I think you should add of sth after combination, i.e. with the right combination of sth Please refer to this post

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