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Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips in ten minutes

Why is “in” used here instead of “for”?

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    I don’t know if you read the comments under the answer, but in in this case is synonymous with within, which might make the meaning more clear to you. Aug 30 '20 at 20:44
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    When you run on a treadmill "for ten minutes", if you only run for five, you have failed. When you cook a meal "in ten minutes", if it only takes five, you have succeeded.
    – user253751
    Aug 31 '20 at 11:19
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    If he attempts it for ten minutes, that sounds as if after ten minutes he gave up. Aug 31 '20 at 16:17
  • If I were the newscaster, and Gordon't show was next, "Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips in ten minutes" is what I'd say, implying the news is over in ten minutes. The wording is ambiguous without knowing the exact details. Sep 1 '20 at 17:13
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If you do something in a certain period of time, it implies that you have completed the task. The fish and chips are cooked and ready to eat after ten minutes.

Doing something for a certain time just means that you spend all that time in that activity, whether you finish your task or not.

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    Also, in often implies a time limit. If you spend 9 minutes and are done, then you have managed to do it “in 10 minutes.”
    – KRyan
    Aug 30 '20 at 19:11
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    @KRyan - I disagree. In that case I would say "within ten minutes" Aug 30 '20 at 19:24
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    @chasly-reinstateMonica Check the example sentence again and tell me if you think he’d fail his “attempt” if he spent only 9 minutes. Using within or inside would be more explicit, but in context in can certainly do the job.
    – KRyan
    Aug 30 '20 at 19:27
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    @chasly-reinstateMonica Are you serious? Few people would say "within".
    – BillJ
    Aug 31 '20 at 6:36
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    @BillJ - Another, more commonly-used possibility is, "Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips in under ten minutes" Aug 31 '20 at 9:44
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One meaning that hasn't been mentioned so far is using "in" to refer to an action which will begin in the future. If someone says "I will make dinner in 10 minutes" they are usually (in my experience) expressing that they will start to make dinner 10 minutes from now. With this interpretation, the sentence says nothing about the duration of the act of making dinner.

Another valid interpretation of that sentence would be that the act of making dinner will be completed in 10 minutes. In that case the sentence gives no indication when I will start making dinner, just that it will take 10 minutes. I'd argue that my first interpretation - that I will start 10 minutes from now - is far more common, at least in Canadian English.

Which meaning is intended is usually (for a native speaker) apparent from context. If someone says "We will be planting tomatoes on Mars in 100 years" they're probably not expressing the idea that we will be spending the next 100 years planting tomatoes on Mars. Although that would make a lot of ketchup.

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    For a sentence like "I will do X in Y minutes", then I'd agree that I'd interpret it as a statement of when the action will be taken, but I wouldn't interpret a sentence like the one quoted in the question in that way because it doesn't include the word "will".
    – V2Blast
    Aug 31 '20 at 22:17
  • I'd agree with that Aug 31 '20 at 23:01
  • @V2Blast you sometimes get TV continuity announcers using the simple present in this way (I guess to suggest immediacy?) — e.g. Time now is 8:57. Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips in ten minutes on 'Saturday Kitchen' but first, the headlines, with Trevor MacDonald Sep 1 '20 at 14:09
  • Yes, the first meaning is more common in my experience in American English, too and, like you said, which meaning is intended is typically clear from the context. In the context of the Ramsey quote in the question, it's almost certainly the second meaning, unless the context is as in anotherdave's comment.
    – reirab
    Sep 1 '20 at 16:39
  • "I'll make dinner in about 10 minutes' time" is how I would express my intention to drag myself to the kitchen...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 2 '20 at 13:18
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"Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips for ten minutes" would mean you are promised to see footage which is exactly 10 minutes long showing Gordon Ramsay performing the task of making fish and chips. But it does not guarantee that it shows the whole process. The footage might start in the middle of the process. The 10 minutes might end before he is finished. He might even be finished after 8 minutes and then start another batch in order to complete the promised 10 minutes of labor. A possible failure condition for this attempt would be if Ramsay would become exhausted or bored before the 10 minutes are completed and just quit.

"Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips in ten minutes" , on the other hand, promises that you are going to see the whole process from start to finish in 10 minutes or less. A possible failure condition for this attempt would be if Ramsay would be unable to complete the whole process within the 10 minute time limit.

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  • Which is approximately what I said yesterday! Aug 31 '20 at 12:44
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    ""Gordon Ramsay attempts to make fish and chips for ten minutes" would mean you are promised to see footage which is exactly 10 minutes long showing Gordon Ramsay performing the task of making fish and chips." Sounds like the title of a bizarre YouTube video...
    – V2Blast
    Aug 31 '20 at 22:18
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    The accepted answer is more straightforward, but I actually prefer this one. When I'm comparing two words in a new language, "what would not qualify as X?" is often more helpful than just the definitions. That said, I disagree with your first sentence - it's Ramsay who will be attempting to do it for ten minutes straight without (for example) losing patience and leaving. There's no guarantee that the footage you see of that event will be exactly 10 minutes long, and indeed, such things are often cut for TV - you'd see him starting out, then maybe the last few minutes, for maximum drama. Sep 1 '20 at 16:17
  • By the way, for the original poster's benefit: I realize I said "for ten minutes straight", which would be a much more common way of expressing the (hypothetical) example with "for". If I say "I played videogames for 6 hours yesterday", that might have included breaks for food, etc. If I say "I played videogames for 6 hours straight yesterday", that means 6 continuous hours, no stopping. (A listener might wonder whether I really meant "no stopping [at all]" or "no stopping [except bathroom breaks]" - could go either way, but the most literal meaning is "no stopping at all".) Sep 1 '20 at 16:22

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