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If I'd express the thought that the plan will be published at anytime before the end of this year, which of the following two sentences that I should use?

1) The plan will be published within this year.
2) The plan will be published by the end of this year.

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If I were writing or speaking this, I wouldn't use either sentence. I infer that you want to say that The plan will be by the end of this calendar year, that is, no later than 31 December 2013. Therefore, that's what I'd say.

It's easy enough to say and write things clearly if you're as specific as possible. Avoiding ambiguity isn't all that difficult and usually doesn't cost too much (i.e., doesn't add too many extra words).

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  • +1 The Prime Rule: “Anything which can be misunderstood will be.” – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 17 '13 at 18:47
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Both versions are perfectly valid, but I'm inclined to think the #1 within version would be less common.

Arguably #2 by the end of more strongly implies that it'll more likely be nearer the end than the start, just as it emphasises more the fact that there is a schedule that will be kept to.

Per my comment, many people (including myself) would take The plan will be published within the year. (rather than this) to mean sometime in the next 12 months (often with the implication it'll probably be nearer the end of that period). Using this year means the current year which will end on Dec 31st.

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    I think you're off base here. "Within the year means "the current calendar year*. Within a year definitely means within the next 12 month period. But this could very well be a US/Br thing. – Jim Mar 17 '13 at 5:32
  • @Jim: It would depend primarily on context for me. The year might be calendar, academic, financial year, or the next 12 months. But since for OP's exact phrasing, with nothing else to go on, I'd expect this year if it was one of the first three, I'd probably assume the fourth meaning. Well, to be honest, if it mattered, I'd probably ask for clarification, since I wouldn't have much confidence that any particular interpretation was reliable. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 17 '13 at 14:44
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Both examples in the question are legitimate ways to say a plan will be published sometime before the end of this year. A number of ways of saying about the same thing are listed below. The list contains forms from the question and from previous answers, besides some forms I added.

  1. The plan will be published in 2013
  2. The plan will be published this year
  3. The plan will be published 4th quarter
  4. The plan will be published within the year
  5. The plan will be published before year end
  6. The plan will be published within this year
  7. The plan will be published before the year ends
  8. The plan will be published by the end of the year
  9. The plan will be published before the year is out
  10. The plan will be published by the end of this year
  11. The plan will be published by the end of this calendar year

Forms 1, 2, 5, and 9 are direct, accurate, not ambiguous; I recommend using a form like 1 or 2.

Form 3 is a bit jargony, and also pins the publication date to a specific quarter of the year. If that is accurate, you can use form 3; or might revise it to (eg) “The plan will be published 3rd or 4th quarter”.

I regard form 4 as direct, accurate, and a not-ambiguous reference to the current year. By contrast, a previous answer claims it refers to the 12 months ahead instead of to the calendar year.

Form 6, with its “within this year” phrase, strikes me as clumsy and unnatural. Form 7 is not as good as form 5; I'd recommend against form 7.

The “published by” phrase in forms 8, 10, and 11 is bothersome. It is a little like saying the end of the year is going to publish something.

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  • And don't forget those other types of years: fiscal and academic and Chinese lunar year (which doesn't begin until late January or February: The Year of the Snake started on Feb. 10, 2013, and doesn't end until next Jan. or Feb.). – user264 Mar 17 '13 at 22:32
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You could use either of:

The plan will be published within the year.
The plan will be published by the end of the year.

Most people would interpret by the end of the year to mean sometime in December, while "within the year" would allow a broader range of dates between now and the end of the year.

In other words, if your told me you expected to publish within the year and ended up publishing in August, I'd think you were as good as your word. But if you said "by the end of the year" and published in August, I'd think, "Wow, you really beat your estimate."

Within this year is not idiomatic English.

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    It may not be the most common way of expressing it, but I see nothing unusual about within this year. I think you're wrong to substitute within the year - many people (including myself) would take that to mean sometime in the next 12 months, often with the implication probably nearer the end of that period. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 17 '13 at 4:33
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    @FumbleFingers- interesting. I would certainly take within the year to mean (assuming this year is 2013) to mean within the year of 2013. Within A year, would mean in the next 12 month period starting now. I would never say *within this year". I might say, "by the end of this year or even just, "I expect it to be published this year". – Jim Mar 17 '13 at 5:30

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