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I've given a friend of mine a task to do. I want him to finish it before I come in after an hour.

Which the simple or the perfect infinitive better with before and by?

I want you to finish it before an hour passes.
I want you to have finished it befo​​​​​re an hour passes.

I want you to finish it by the time an hour passes.
I want you to have finished it by the time an hour passes.

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    Before ain't great. within an hour is better.
    – Lambie
    Jun 9, 2022 at 20:37
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    They would sound a lot better if you used the present perfect: ....before / by the time an hour has passed. Jun 9, 2022 at 23:54
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    In the UK a schoolteacher or a sergeant major might say, "I want you to..." but a friend would generally say, "I'd like you to..." [or "I was wondering if" or "hoping you could/might"] "...have it finished within an hour." Jun 10, 2022 at 0:48
  • Either "within" with a period or "by/before" with a particular point in time. "I want you to finish it by 12 o'clock", or "I want you to finish it before 12 o'clock". I can't see why adding "passes" is an improvement, although you would say "I want him to have it finished before he goes home".
    – Stuart F
    Dec 8, 2022 at 11:51

1 Answer 1

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Both are fine, but as many have mentioned in the comments, "within" is best used. If not you can use present perfect tense proposed by @RonaldSole:

I want/I'd like you to finish it within an hour.

I want/I'd like you to finish it before/by the time an hour has passed.

Usually the first sentence is clearer and easier to underatand here.

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