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What's the differences between "in one day" and "one day"?

Does the sentence "I need to change eight pieces of clothing in one day" sound natural to you?

Thank you very much!

  • What might make it sound not as natural as you'd like is probably not the in one day part, but the change eight pieces of clothing. (Compare: change clothes eight times) – Damkerng T. Jul 28 '14 at 15:09
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"in one day" means "all in one day". It refers to a single day, whereas "per day" might be an average over multiple days.

"one day" can either mean "one day", or "sometime in the indefinite future". Depending on the context, it could also mean "sometime in the past".

"I need to change eight pieces of clothing in one day" does not sound natural to me. The "in one day" part of the sentence sounds natural, but the use of "change" is unclear. You might mean:

  • "I need to mend eight pieces of clothing in one day" (as in repairing clothing), or
  • "I need to change clothes eight times in one day" (as in partially or completely undressing, and then dressing in different clothing), or
  • "I need to alter eight pieces of clothing in one day" (as in changing the size or shape of the pieces of clothing).

If you were to say "I need to mend eight pieces of clothing one day", it would imply that some time in the future, you might get around to fixing eight pieces of clothing. The amount of time it might take to fix the clothes is just as unspecified -- it might be a day, or a week, or a year.

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Your sentence as it is sounds natural to me and means that you need to change eight pieces of clothing in a single day.

If you omit “in” then your sentence means that sometime (in an unspecified future, sooner or later) you need to change eight pieces of clothing.

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in one day binds you with the period of one day whereas one day talks about you wish something to happen one day.

Compare...

I'll have to finish checking this file in one day - There's a deadline given to you or you set yourself. By the time you leave for your house, that file should be completed.

over...

I'll become an engineer one day - it's your wish or dream.

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