What is the difference between "year/month/day/minute by year/month/day/minute" and "year/month/day/minute after year/month/day/minute"?

According to my research, "year/month/day/minute after year/month/day/minute" seems to emphasize things (especially bad) happen repeatedly.

For example, "She hates doing the same work day after day.".

"year/month/day/minute after year/month/day/minute" seems to emphasize things (could be good or bad) happen a little at a time.

For example, "Day by day his condition improved.". and "Morale was sinking day by day.".

  • 1
    I would say that period BY period implies some sort of aggregate, richer or poorer for instance, while period AFTER period implies monotonous repetitive action, and it is the regularity that is valued or not. I would not say either implies positive or negative.
    – jmoreno
    Mar 11, 2021 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


My answer

"year/month/day/minute by year/month/day/minute" is expression relating to time meaning happening gradually, in a series of small amounts: over many years/months/days/minutes

"year/month/day/minute after year/month/day/minute" is an expression relating to time meaning boringly repetitive.

day by day

gradually over many days: Day by day my father grew stronger.

CED Day by day

"day after day" or "day in day out" We are saying that something happens repetitively . Used when we want to emphasize that it never stops and is very annoying or boring**

After or afterwards as an adverb We can use after as an adverb, but afterwards is more common. When after is used, it is usually as part of an adverb phrase:

CED After

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .