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Are the following boldfaced options okay? If any one of them is not okay, could you explain why?

The judge sentenced the murderer to death on December 15 last year, and he was executed in four months / after four months / four months later.

2 Answers 2

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I would use "four months later" here. "After four months" is ok if you have a bit of context. For example, he was sentenced to death. After four months of failed appeals, he was executed.

It's not entirely incorrect here to say "in four months." It's what we use with future tense: I will be starting my new job in four months (or "after four months of wandering around the world, I will be starting my new job"). But we also use "in" in the past to denote the time an entire process took: I was able to finish the course in three months. (This is why Elainor says it could mean that the execution took four months, and why it isn't quite as accurate in your context.)

Another example: My wife had a major back operation. At her first appointment, the surgeon explained the operation to her, and said to think about it. She said she didn't need to think about it, and to go ahead and set it up. Two weeks later, they performed the operation. I was impressed. They got from the commitment to actually performing the operation in just two weeks.

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  • Thank you. Would "in four months' time" sound any better in my context?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 5:35
  • @Apollyon yes it does. However, it still has the alternate meaning of "over the course of four months," and also could have the meaning of four months from the day that the words were written rather than from the stated date of sentence. Although the context makes the meaning pretty clear, "four months later" doesn't need any context to be clear. So I would still prefer it.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 5:53
  • Thank you. Could "four months from then" be used in the OP sentence?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 13:02
  • Killing someone over a four month span of time would be highly inhumane. Except for death by slow starvation, even the worst forms of a death penalty didn't go that far. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 13:55
  • @DavidHammen I appreciate your contribution. Could you tell me whether "four months from then" could be used in the OP sentence?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 1:43
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"In four months", means that he was executed within the four months or that it took four months to execute him. Wouldn't really use this here unless you were talking about someone dying slowly.

"After four months" doesn't make sense with this context. It means that he died after four months. That leads the reader to ask, "then what month was he executed in?"

"Four months later", is more correct because it is specific. Since the date of his sentencing is mentioned on a specific date, then the next part of the sentence should be somewhat specific. The 'later' part implies that his execution was four months from the time of his execution, rather than during four months.

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