I am doing my homework and I have to write how to cook a curry, I want it to be grammatically correct. Which one of these is correct?

Use the spices 37 minutes before the curry is ready


Use the spices at 37 minutes

Which one is correct?

  • "at" is normally used when referring to a specific time of day, like "at 3 o'clock". It's not used when describing a relative time. – Barmar Oct 21 '19 at 4:54
  • Hello @Giant. Proofreading (give me the correct sentence) questions are off topic here. Please visit our help center for more information on this. You will need to include your research and tell us what you think and what you are having a problem with. – marcellothearcane Oct 21 '19 at 4:56
  • @Barmar - "at" can be used for relative times in some contexts, e.g., "Let the curry simmer for 90 minutes; at 37 minutes add the spices" would refer to 37 minutes from the start. But it's not a common way of putting it. Also, if the curry recipe says "Use the spices 37 minutes before the curry is ready", how do you know when it will be ready? – nnnnnn Oct 21 '19 at 6:20
  • I agree with @nnnnnn. Recipes usually tell you to take the next step after a certain length of time (from the previous step). – Kate Bunting Oct 21 '19 at 8:42

Hard to say which one is correct as they both mean very different things.

... at 37 minutes

This would mean 37 minutes from the start.

... 37 minutes before the curry is ready

This would mean 37 minutes before the finish. While it could be used in other contexts, it seems highly unlikely such an instruction would appear in a recipe method, as it requires you to make a calculation based on the amount of time the whole recipe takes to prepare and the amount of time that has already passed.

  • I'd assume that the version with "before" has an elided "for": Use the spices for 37 minutes before the curry is ready. I'd also assume that, in this context, the meaning would be "for at least 37 minutes." – J.R. Oct 21 '19 at 9:49

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