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What is the correct preposition and phrase here:

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Overall, the highest number in terms of consumption of energy is in winter and its peak is by the end of THE day in England

Vs.

Overall, the highest number in terms of consumption of energy is in winter and its peak is AT by the end of A day in England.

Please help, I am flummoxed here as you can see.

  • It should be and its peak is reached (by / at) the end of the day. And either preposition works. (Although the sentence as a whole still sounds a bit odd, even with that correction.) – Jason Bassford Apr 14 at 5:20
  • Do have a suggestion to improve the constructed sentence? – John Arvin Apr 14 at 5:34
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While both are correct (-ish), your first option is unclear and may often be misinterpreted.

You are using Merriam-Webster's first definition:

1: in proximity to : near

However, definition 3b can also be used in a valid interpretation of the sentence:

3b: not later than

// be there by 2 p.m.

Using this definition, the sentence would mean that consumption reaches its peak at any time before the end of the day - which evaluates to any time during the day. While this results in a fairly meaningless sentence, and thus many people will be able to determine what you intended to convey, it is also the more common definition in the context of timeframes, and will cause unnecessary confusion.

Therefore, the second option is more clear. It is, however, slightly incorrect - it should be written:

Overall, the highest number in terms of consumption of energy is in winter and its peak is at the end of the day in England.

It also reads somewhat strangely; I might suggest altering it to something like:

Overall, energy consumption in England is greatest in winter, with daily consumption reaching its peak at 10:00 pm.

Note that this assumes "in England" refers to the location (which is unclear in the original). If it instead refers to the time zone, that would preferably be specified.

Additionally, "end of the day" is potentially vague, especially in winter - it may refer to the end of daylight hours or midnight. I recommend using a specific time if possible.

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    From what you have written, "Using this definition, the sentence would mean that consumption reaches its peak at any time before the end of the day* - which evaluates to any time during the day". I don't think so, I didn't write before the end of the day (which has a meaning of at any time before the end of the day) but by the end of the day instead, which means close to the end of the day. Right? – John Arvin Apr 14 at 11:26
  • I suppose the definition is precise, but there might be some misinterpretations here... – John Arvin Apr 14 at 11:28
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    @JohnArvin by can mean before or close to when applied to timeframes, which is why there's a danger of misunderstanding. Granted, even in the prior meaning, there's a connotation of closer to the event than not - for example, if I were to be told "It's likely to start raining by sunset" I'd expect rain in the afternoon or evening, not morning - but there's still ambiguity that using at avoids. – Lrizika Apr 16 at 14:44

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