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WHICH IS CORRECT ANSWER BETWEEN AT 2PM, I’LL BE THERE AND BY 2PM, I’LL BE THERE ?

WHICH IS CORRECT ANSWER BETWEEN AT 2PM, I’LL BE THERE AND BY 2PM, I’LL BE THERE ?

Honestly, I did NOT know the answer.

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I wanted to answer that ‘at 2pm’ is correct while ‘by 2pm’ is wrong.

But you see, I’m a researcher and teacher at the Department of English Studies, University of Port Harcourt.

In the late 90s when I was either a freshman or sophomore (I can’t remember which) at UniPort, Professor Charles Nnolim, Africa’s best Literary Critic then, taught me the importance of having the spirit of inquiry.

NB: In American English (AmE), freshman refers to someone in their first year in the university. It’s often  shortened to ‘frosh’.

Sophomore means someone in their second year. It’s often shortened to ‘soph’.

As I was saying, during the class yesterday, if I’d said that “By 2pm is wrong”, I would’ve been flat wrong.

So, I consulted a few sources (resource materials) and gave this response:👇

At 2pm, I will be there. ✅

By 2pm, I will be there. ✅

Both are correct; they have different meanings.

USE OF ‘BY’

‘By’ is often used to mean ‘before but not later than’ when referring to a given time or deadline.

For example 👇

👉 By 2pm, I will be there.

(It means any time before 2pm but not later than 2pm.)

👉 I’ll be up by 6 in the morning tomorrow.

(Which means: any time before 6am but not later than 6am)

USE OF ‘AT’

‘At’ is used to refer to a precise or specific time.

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Precise is an adjective which means exact and accurate.

For example 👇

At 2pm, I will be there. (It means exactly 2pm)

The bells for church service will ring at 12 noon. (Which means: it’ll ring exactly at the stated time)

Mr. Harrison

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