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A doctor says " you have to take this medication 3 times a day" Does the following questions ok to be asked ? ( Grammatically speaking )

1-How many hours apart are there between each time ?

2- There are three hours apart between each time.

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    I don't understand #2. Is it supposed to be a question, or an answer to the first? Apr 22, 2020 at 12:55
  • t.i.d. = three times a day usually means every 8 hours. Assuming your doctor didn't specify, they probably mean you are supposed to take it first thing in the morning, early afternoon and evening, You can always call them and ask, though: "what's the time interval between each dose?".
    – Centaurus
    Apr 22, 2020 at 13:11
  • @Rattler the first sentence is question and the second one is just a statement, and they are not related .I am just asking if either sentences is ok to say describing the situation.
    – Mohamed kz
    Apr 22, 2020 at 15:39
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    Well...the reason I asked is because your question says "*Does the following questions ok to be asked ? " Apr 22, 2020 at 15:48
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    Your examples are not idiomatic.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 22, 2020 at 16:34

1 Answer 1

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What you are describing is the interval:

[Merriam-Webster]
1 a: a space of time between events or states

So:

"Take this medication 3 times a day."
"Do you mean at 8-hour intervals?

Or:

"What is the interval between doses?"

Note, too, the use of dose in the second example.


I'm not certain if either of the sentences in the question is technically ungrammatical (in violation of actual grammar rules), but they are both at least awkward and not how people would typically phrase them.

The main problem is the use of each time rather than something like dose. Also, pairing apart with between is redundant.


If you don't want to use interval (or dose), and keep the sentences as close to the original as possible without them sounding quite strange, the following might be used:

"How many hours apart should I be taking the medicine?"
"How many hours should there be between the times I take it?"
"Take the medicine every three hours."


After a series of comments, it's been brought to my attention that it might be considered unusual to use the word apart or between with a singular noun, even in context.

In short:

  • ✔ How many hours are there between doses.
  • ? How many hours are there between each dose.

While the singular form has always been colloquial and idiomatic in my own use and experience in Canada, it seems it's unusual in other places. To me, the singular version actually sounds more natural—although I have no problem with the plural version, and would probably use it in strictly formal writing.

Although it would be understood, those who aren't used to the singular version could pause upon hearing it.

So, using the singular version seems to be normal in some places, but uncommon, and a little odd, in others.

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  • Implicit in your examples and perhaps worth making explicit is that "between" should have two things as its object. In other words, "between times" is OK but "between each time" is not, since "each time" is singular. Apr 22, 2020 at 23:36
  • @AndreasBlass Actually, I don't agree with that—at least not fully. I don't see anything wrong with, for example, There was a sticker placed between each shelf. In that sentence shelf is singular, and there's no problem with using between. I think you're complaining more about the use of each time than anything else. But the problem with it isn't that it's singular, but the use of each time, specifically, which is an odd expression to use here (which I've already said). It's not even that it's temporal. I could say I got hungry between each visit just as easily. Apr 23, 2020 at 6:20
  • @ Jason Bassford Thanks a lot for this wonderful explanation. So I can just easily say : How many hours are there between each dose ??
    – Mohamed kz
    Apr 23, 2020 at 11:51
  • @Mohamedkz Yes, that sentence is fine. You could even shorten it, if you're speaking or writing informally, to just How many hours between each dose? Apr 23, 2020 at 11:53
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    No, the presence of "in" would make no difference to me. I'd probably say "in between each two shelves". Apr 23, 2020 at 16:07

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