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Which of the two sentences is grammatically correct?

  1. At first I thought that show was a cheap rip off of Friends, but several episodes in I started liking it.
  2. At first I thought that show was a cheap rip off of Friends, but after being several episodes in I started liking it.
  • Well, the first one is fine, the second one seems to have some extra words thrown in for no good reason. That's why one wonders, why you wrote the second one. – oerkelens Aug 5 '16 at 7:14
  • I wrote it because the second half of the first one seemed a bit odd to me. – Fizza Aug 5 '16 at 9:15
  • In 1. separate in your mind "but several episodes in(to Friends)" and "I started liking it." This might explain it better but your version is fine. A pause after "in" might help. – user3169 Aug 5 '16 at 16:56
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Both are correct, and they each have essentially the same meaning.

There is only one potential difference I can think of. Neither explicitly says that you were still watching the programme when you began to like it, but I would say that the former implies this. The latter doesn't.

Other than that, I can't think of any real differences in interpretation between the two, and to me neither sounds odd. Which you use will probably come down to the overall tone and style of whatever you are writing/saying.

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“. . . but several episodes in . . .” used in the first sentence is the correct version. However, it needs to be understood that “several episodes in” is a slang expression which is linguistically incorrect in itself. Furthermore, both sentences are linguistically incorrect in that neither half expresses a complete thought: In the first half of both sentences, one is claiming the show to be a “rip-off” of another show, but in the second half of the sentence one is claiming that he or she began to like the show after watching a few episodes. In other words, that would be like saying, “At first I thought it was going to snow, but while I was at the store I decided to buy some milk.” See what I mean?

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If you are reading a book or watching a movie, you can use the idiomatic expression:

  • After several pages in [after reading several pages]
  • After several episodes in [after watching several pages]

This can also be used in other contexts.

The interview lasted four hours. After 20 minutes in, it became very boring.

That said, people use it in speech, but it is not needed and does not change the meaning to leave it out.

This kind of usage is similar (but not the same as exactly) to:

Where's he at now? Meaning: Where is he now?

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I cannot attest to other situations. However, in this situation, number 1, "At first I thought that show was a cheap rip off of Friends, but several episodes in I started liking it" is a more accurate and clear wording. You might wish to add two commas, however, after "At first" (to clarify the timing of the two actions) and "several episodes in" (to clarify the second action).

At first, I thought that show was a cheap rip off of Friends, but several episodes in, I started liking it.

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In the first sentence, there are some commas that could be added:

At first I thought that show was a cheap rip off of Friends, but, several episodes in, I started liking it.

This use of commas would make it more clear. Moreover, you can restructure the sentence to be more simple and understandable. It could be written as:

At first I thought that show was a cheap rip off of Friends, but after watching several episodes, I started liking it.

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