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Ho can I say there is some time until an event? Suppose there is a puzzle whose answer is an image, which should I say:

five seconds to show the image

five seconds are left to show the image

five seconds are left until showing the image

five seconds are left until the image to be shown

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  • 1
    More context, please. Would this sentence be used in a computer program, or in speech? Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 18:08
  • You can use five seconds to go.
    – Schwale
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 18:14
  • 1
    There are many valid ways to say this; here is one I like: Five seconds until the image will be shown.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 23:55
  • @CopperKettle Computer program
    – Ahmad
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 6:32

3 Answers 3

1

Five seconds to show the image

This means that you have five seconds to show the image. The problem here is that the implication is that the user is going to be the one showing the image.

Five seconds are left to show the image

Same problem here. This means that the user has 5 seconds left to show the image.

Five seconds are left until showing the image

This doesn't have the same problem as before, but I still don't like this one. It sounds awkward. You could make it sound better by saying "until the showing of the image," but that is too verbose anyway.

five seconds are left until the image to be shown

This is missing a verb. It should be

Five seconds are left until the image is to be shown

However, this is too verbose in my opinion.

For something like counting down time until a puzzle ends, I find this to be common enough and not be too verbose:

Five seconds remaining until image is shown

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It sounds like in this context, a complete sentence is not required. A fragment will suffice, and the shorter the better, since the puzzle-solver will not want to waste time reading a long message. I'd shorten Alex K's answer to:

5 seconds remaining

or

Time left: 5 seconds

I'm deliberately using a numeral rather than text. This is more of a user interface (UI) issue than a question of grammar. Brevity and clarity are paramount.

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    I agree - if this is for an app, this would be the way to display a counter somewhere.
    – Alex K
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 19:37
  • +1 for 'time left'. That's what exactly I see (and of course I believe the best way to say that) in McDonald's here in India. They play such interesting puzzles all time on TVs kept in the restaurants.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 5:35
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In all three examples, it sounds like you are addressing the projectionist instead of the person viewing

1) five seconds to show the image
2) five seconds are left to show the image
3) five seconds are left until showing the image

better phrasing might be :

1) five seconds to see the image
2) five seconds left to see the image
3) five seconds left until the image is gone

shorter versions might be :

five seconds left
five seconds to go
ends in five seconds
displays/disappears in five seconds (specifically since something is being shown)

Especially for showing something:

Five seconds until showtime!

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  • I think that the answer to the puzzle is an image, and he is counting down the time until the answer is revealed.
    – Alex K
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 18:19
  • That was my original thought also, then after repeating it to myself a few times, I realised it is ambiguous and could be either, depends on context and intonation
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 18:21

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