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I would like to know the difference between "X months out of Y years" vs "X months of Y years" in the following sentences.

For example:

1) Person A has spent only four months of the 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, living in country 2.

2) Person A has spent only four months out of 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, living in country 2.

2nd example: (suppose Person A doesn't live in either of the countries)

3) Person A lived in country 1 for 10 years, and she spent 4 months of the 10 years living in country 2.

4) Person A lived in country 1 for 10 years, and she spent 4 months out of the 10 years living in country 2.

3rd example:

A team scored 10 goals, and person A scored 4 of them.

5) Out of the 10 goals that were scored, Person A scored 4.

6) Person A scored 4 of the 10 goals that were scored.

Are all of them grammatically correct? Also, I'm not sure whether I should use appositives in these sentences or not.

Any help will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • I would use "out of" if it makes sense at all. 5) and 6) could be either. – user3169 Apr 24 '16 at 22:26
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As to 1) to 4), I would use "out of" as well. If not, I would use "during" instead of "out of" or "of". 1) Person A has spent only four months during the 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, living in country 2.

  • Hi @miki, this answer would be a lot better if an explanation is provided. Thanks! – shin Apr 25 '16 at 7:06
  • Sorry, yea you're right! I just found this explanation about the word "during" on the Merriam-Webster site. Hope this helps a bit... :) <Simple Definition of during> 1: throughout the entire time of (an event, period, occurrence, etc.) 2: at some time in the course of (something) merriam-webster.com/dictionary/during – Mikiko Apr 26 '16 at 0:18
  • Your use of "out of" regarding 1) to 4) seems perfectly fine to me though. – Mikiko Apr 26 '16 at 0:24
  • Thank you for answering :). Is the use of "of" in 1) to 4) ungrammatical? – S.Khan Apr 26 '16 at 1:21
  • @S.Khan: Since I am not a native speaker, I'm not confident in giving you the precise answer... But the term "out of" is used as a function word to indicate exclusion from or deprivation of something according to an online dictionary, I am sure you can use out of in this situation. As to "of", I cannot answer... Sorry! But it's not something that I would use. We need a native speaker to teach us about this so we could both learn! :( – Mikiko Apr 26 '16 at 1:36
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All six examples are correct.

1) implies that person A has lived ten years in country 1, no more and no less.

2) leaves it open that person A may have lived longer in county 1 -- "Person A has spent only four months out of 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, living in country 2, and for the other three years she has lived in country 1, she has spent over six months in country 2."

3) and 4) are interchangeable. The word "out" can be omitted with no change in meaning. The point here is that "Person A lived in country 1 for 10 years" specifies that there are 10 years in question, no more and no less -- and the word "the" in the second part of the sentence means that you are referring back to those same 10 years. In linguistics and semiotic, this is known as anaphora -- the use of an expression whose interpretation depends upon another preceding expression. (There is a somewhat stricter definition of anaphora in rhetoric, and what we have here does not quite meet that definition.)

By the way, if person A had spent a time measured in years in country 2, I would opt strongly for "Person A has spent only two of the 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, living in country 2." -- but only if the years spent in country 2 were full years and not 24 months scattered throughout the 10-year period, in which case we would still measure that time in months.

5) and 6) are also interchangeable. With 5), you could just as easily say "Of the 10 goals that were scored, Person A scored 4." Once again, the word "out" is redundant -- whether you keep it or not is entirely a stylistic choice!

As to the use of appositives, these are only of use if you have an alternate naming of one or more of the entities involved. For example, if you have been talking of a hypothetical case using person A, country 1 and country 2, and then wish to cite a concrete example, it would be quite valid to relate the hypothetical and the concrete by apposition, like this:

Person A, Arthur, has spent only four months of the 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, Switzerland, living in country 2, Italy.

As for the comment about using "during", yes, this is possible -- but I (as an Australian native speaker) would still opt for "of", and prefer this to "out of".

  • A follow-up... "Person A has spent only four months of the 10 years in which she has lived in country 1, living in country 2." is somewhat awkward. You should not need a comma in a simple sentence, but the comma is made necessary to enforce a pause to make the meaning clear. I would prefer to recast the sentence, something like this -- "Person A has spent only four months living in country 2 during the 10 years she has lived in country 1." And I would probably change a verb -- "Person A has spent only four months visiting country 2 during the 10 years she has lived in country 1." – Warren Ham Jan 18 '17 at 3:11

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