1

Was wondering if it is ok to say "I wanted to delay this meeting for two days". I think I have heard people say "delay something by two days". Not sure which preposition should I use here.

Also is it correct to say "delay something until two days later"?

5
  • You do know that simple sentence can be checked in Word, right? Delay for two days is fine.
    – Lambie
    Jun 10, 2021 at 20:56
  • I would prefer postpone but either is fine.
    – randomhead
    Jun 10, 2021 at 21:08
  • @Lambie ok I thought this forum was for people trying to learn English as their second language. Sorry for asking questions about some usages of a particular word
    – Joji
    Jun 10, 2021 at 21:14
  • You're right but they (the powers that be) say that question posters should show any research they have done. So, I try to say it nicely and respond to the question.
    – Lambie
    Jun 10, 2021 at 21:46
  • A native speaker would say "I want to meet on Thursday instead of Tuesday." That's because native speakers care what day the meeting is on, not how many days later it is. Geesh. We're not machines. Jun 12, 2021 at 4:38

2 Answers 2

-1

The use of for and by in this case are virtually interchangeable although the meanings are slightly different. "For" relates to how long something is going to happen (The duration). Whilst; By relates to the "deadline" for completion.

To summarise

For = Duration and By = Deadline


"I wanted to delay this meeting for two days".

We use for with a period of time to refer to duration (how long something lasts): Ref C.E.D.


We use "by" meaning ‘not later than’ to refer to arrangements and deadlines: Ref C.E.D.

"I wanted to delay this meeting by two days".

Meaning The meeting is delayed for two days at the most.


Also is it correct to say "delay something until two days later"

Basically yes though this add-on is not specific

"I want to delay this meeting until the day after tomorrow"

"I want to delay the meeting, until after the weekend".

2
  • Your explanation of "by" doesn't fit the question. Using your provided reference, this would be better: "We use by to talk about measurements, and increases and decreases in amounts". E.g. "The price of fuel has increased by 12% this year." "two days" is a measurement, not a point in time.
    – Readin
    Jun 21, 2021 at 4:10
  • "by" is fine to be used in this case, the meeting is delayed by two days. The meeting is delayed for two days at the most.
    – Brad
    Jun 21, 2021 at 7:57
1

"by" and "for" will both work but for different reasons.

"I wanted to delay this meeting for two days" says that you want to do something for a certain amount of time. You could say, "I want to live in Hawaii for 2 years". You could say, "I will keep working for as long as I'm healthy." You could say, "I will go to school for 4 years." So when you say you will "delay for two days", you are telling someone how long you will be in the act of delaying.

"I wanted to delay this meeting by two days" is less common, but it works. It means that the time measurement for the delay you wanted is two days. Other similar uses of "by" are: "I want to shorten my hair by two inches" and "I will increase my speed by 5 miles per hour."

You must log in to answer this question.

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