If I would say now

I will finish my work by the year 2020.

Does it mean I have to finish the work before the year 2020? Last day 31.12.2019

Or it includes even days in 2020? So last day is 31.12.2020.

Also in business strategy plan it says:


We will do this and this and this.

So they have time to do those things between 1.1.2015 and 31.12.2019.

Or it's between 1.1.2015 and 31.12.2020?

Thank you.

  • What makes you think these expressions have precise meanings? – Colin Fine Jun 2 '19 at 21:03
  • A five-year strategic plan isn't normally thought of as having a fixed deadline. It's more like an estimate. – J.R. Jun 3 '19 at 1:23

The expression:

I will finish my work by the year 2020.

is inherently ambiguous. To eliminate the ambiguity, you could say:

I will finish my work before the end of 2020.


I will finish my work before the end of 2019.

You might see the more ambiguous wording used, though, in cases where someone is conveying a rough estimate and a firm deadline isn't really necessary. For example, someone might say:

I think man will land on Mars by the year 2030.

and even if the first Mars landing doesn't happen until February of 2031, most people would consider that a pretty good prediction given that it was made in 2019.

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