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I want to write a sentence that says I may pass the exam after 3 ,4 or 5 months, but no more than 5 months, which one of those sentences is appropriate for that?

  1. I expect to pass the exam during 5 months

  2. I expect to pass the exam in 5 months.

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  • I expect to pass the exam in five months means after five months. So in does not work for your intended meaning here.
    – user20792
    Nov 27 '15 at 16:17
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It is better to use in than during in a sense that your passing the exam will take place around at the end of the 5-month period.

There is no big difference between in and within.

In: expressing the length of time before a future event is expected to happen

Within: occurring inside (a particular period of time)

Using within might suggest more that you would be able to pass the exam before five months pass than using in.

The below Ngram Viewer for pass it in, passed it in, pass it during, passed it during, pass it within, passed it within shows usage of in is far more popular than that of during and within.

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  • 3
    The preposition during could be used if the sentence were reworded: I expect to pass my exam sometime during the next five months.
    – J.R.
    Nov 27 '15 at 16:03
  • @J.R. Yes, definitely. "sometime during the next five months" seems to be a bit long though.
    – user24743
    Nov 27 '15 at 16:06
  • 2
    @Ranthony - Perhaps it is, but it's also not an uncommon construct.
    – J.R.
    Nov 27 '15 at 16:07
  • 1
    Also @J.R. I expect to pass the exam in the next five months would be a common native speaker response, as you know. And the use of in here by itself would actually mean after. And thus it is Definition 3 in the Oxford dictionary, not Definition 2, that applies here.
    – user20792
    Nov 27 '15 at 16:13
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You may certainly use "in 5 months". It connotes that the pass is 5 months in the future.

"...within 5 months" means that it is going to happen at some point in time between now and 5 months times. Perhaps in 6 weeks, Perhaps in 4 months.

"during 5 months" is not a valid construct.

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  • In this country, it rains a lot during five months, but the other seven months are quite dry.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 28 '15 at 11:00
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    Unfortunately, that is a local dialect usage of "during", which sounds like it has been translated too literally into English from French or German. A more universal form would be "It rains a lot for just the five months, but..."
    – Euan M
    Nov 28 '15 at 16:37
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"I expect to pass the exam during five months" means: You have to take the same exam again and again. During five months you expect to pass it each time. An unusual exam that you have to pass again and again. For example, you might have suffered from an illness, and you need to stay in hospital for five months, passing an exam that the illness hasn't returned every week during these five months.

"I expect to pass the exam in five months" means: There is a date set for the exam, five months from now. You expect to go to the exam in exactly five months time and pass it.

"I expect to pass the exam within five months" means: You can take an exam at any time when you feel ready. You expect that it won't take you longer than five months to learn everything needed for the exam. You might do it in four or three months.

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Neither. Instead you can use within. See below:

I expect to pass(or clear) the exam within 5 months.

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  • You may certainly use "in 5 months", though you may never use "during 5 months".
    – Euan M
    Nov 27 '15 at 18:32
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It's December 2015 and an exam candidate makes the following statement:

  1. I expect to pass my exams in five months' time

This means that the candidate is confident about passing his/her exams sometime in May next year. Note the possessive apostrophe after months it is the same apostrophe that we see in the phrase:

  • "She gave two weeks' notice"
  1. I expect to pass my exams by May 15th

Here the speaker predicts she or he will succeed in passing all their exams any time before May 15th.

  1. I expect to pass my exams in the next three to five months.
  2. I expect to pass my exams in the following five months
  3. I expect to pass my exams in the upcoming five months
    OR
  4. I expect to pass my exams sometime during the spring.

The candidate is not certain when he or she will pass the exams, it seams the exams will be taken on different dates, but she or he will have sat (and passed) the exams between now and May next year. Sentences 3-5 carry the same meaning. Sentence 6 implies the candidate will take their exams throughout the spring period, i.e. from March to June.


References

CDO, The Guardian, Speakspeak.com, Oxford Dictionaries

in + time period + time

We use an apostrophe -s construction (in a year’s time, in two months’ time) to say when something will happen. We don’t use it to say how long someone takes to do something:

I won’t say goodbye because we’ll be seeing each other again in three days’ time.

This book represents a year's thought, squeezed into a month's actual work.

Apostrophes are used in phrases such as two days' time and 12 years' jail, where the time period (two days) modifies a noun (time), but not in three weeks old or nine months pregnant, where the time period (three weeks) modifies an adjective (old)*.

by

We use by to say that something will happen or be achieved before a particular time.

He should return by the end of March.

following

[ATTRIBUTIVE] Next in time:

Her second marathon in Paris the following year was more successful.

in the upcoming

Google Books fetches 9,600 hits for "in the upcoming months"

My calendar of special days was now circled in the upcoming months of December, June, and July.

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