"The first thousand people to sign up using the link in the description will get their first two months free."

This is a sentence from a sponsored Youtube video. I saw it and wrote it down. My question is, what is the difference if we place by after "to sign up"?

Someone on the Internet I talked to suggested that adding by could mean that there are other ways to get the incentive, while not adding by could mean using the link to sign up is the only way to get the incentive. I am not sure if my question is subjective to the individual.

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    Whoever suggested it, gave you correct information. Adding by will indicate there are various or more than one option to choose from. Usually if people use by they will go on to add the description of the other possible methods also. – Dhanishtha Ghosh Oct 5 '20 at 8:33
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    However I very much think, you can also add description about other options without using preposition by. I mean there can be more options to choose from even if someone read the block-quoted sentence. – Dhanishtha Ghosh Oct 5 '20 at 8:37
  • Without using "by",there is an omitted"that"between"to sign up"and "using the link". – Shaun Oct 9 '20 at 14:29
  • @Shaun I don't think that's grammatical. – Sam Oct 13 '20 at 1:39

I would suggest that in this context, there is no difference in meaning whether or not the 'by' is present.

In regards to it signifying the possibilities of other options, there is a valid point there. I think that if the writer were to specify more than one option in this sentence, they might use 'by'. For example:

'The first thousand people to sign up using the link in the description, or by emailing me personally, will get their first two months free.'

In this example, 'by' works as it specifies that 'emailing personally' is another option. However, if you don't have any other option in the sentence, 'by' is not necessary.

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    I disagree; in this case, there's a very subtle difference, but it's slightly more suggestive of multiple ways to signup once you add 'by' to the sentence. – Reubend Oct 12 '20 at 6:09

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