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In the sentence below, which preposition is the correct one – in or during? Or are they both correct? In that case, is there a difference in meaning?

Following an expansive phase in/during 2020, we will now slow down production.

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    Prepositions are very flexible in English. For example, the sequence will slow up production is almost as common as will slow down production. So don't worry about the choice between in and during - at least those two (equally valid) options are near-synonymous, which you certainly can't say about up and down in many other contexts! Jan 4, 2021 at 12:47
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    Does this answer your question? Which preposition should be used, in or during? Jan 4, 2021 at 12:50
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    You can often think of during as a slightly more "emphatic" alternative to in when applied to "some period of time". That's because plain in can carry many other senses (you can be in a football team, or in love, for example). But during ONLY works for a "period of time" (or "event that happens non-instantaneously"), so arguably it inherently draws attention to that within some duration aspect. Jan 4, 2021 at 12:58
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    @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica I think your comments make a better answer than your suggested duplicate, which suggests that "in" is awkward here, which it's not. I'd certainly upvote an answer comprised of your two comments.
    – Ryan M
    Jan 4, 2021 at 13:07
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    @RyanM: You're quite right. I looked at several other related earlier questions, but I guess my eventual choice was just "the best of a bad bunch" for this exact question. So I've gone the extra mile, and retracted my closevote Jan 4, 2021 at 13:46

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Prepositions are often very flexible in English. For example, the sequence will slow up production is a perfectly valid and common alternative to will slow down production...

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So don't worry about the choice between in and during here. At least those two (equally valid) alternatives are near-synonymous, which you certainly can't say about up and down in many other contexts!

You can often think of during as a slightly more "emphatic" alternative to in when we're referencing "some period of time" (such as the year 2020 here). That's because plain in can carry many other senses (you can be in a football team, or in love, for example).

But during ONLY works for a "period of time" (or "event that happens non-instantaneously"), so arguably it inherently draws attention to that "within some duration" aspect - rather than "at that [point in] time".

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  • The graph would make more sense if it was about the problem presented, i.e. “during 2020”/“in 2020” Jan 4, 2021 at 16:48
  • That's not the purpose of the chart, So far as I'm concerned, I've entirely addressed the OP's specific question in my final two paragraphs above - and that's not to mention the bracketed aside (equally valid) as mentioned before that, which should be quite enough for such a trivial question. The point of the chart is to drive home my main message - Prepositions are often very flexible in English. With a contextually relevant example, given that OP's text does in fact include slow down as opposed to the equally valid slow up. Jan 4, 2021 at 17:21

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