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I'm refactoring a function I had to show relative dates like StackExchange does, eg.:

relative unit of time (second/minute/hour/day/week/month/year)[s] (ago/from now)

However, I started wondering if the expression "from now" is the most logical / appropriate for general purpose futuristic use - perhaps "to go" (this kind of makes me imagine a space shuttle launch...) or some other expression would be a better choice?

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"5 years ago, I did this" = OK. "5 years from now, I will do this" = OK. "5 years to go, I will do this" = bad. –  Kosmonaut May 9 '11 at 15:39
    
@Kosmonaut: Great exemplification, +1. –  Alix Axel May 9 '11 at 16:29
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

"From now" makes sense for the purpose you're suggesting, but if you're after a single word I think "hence" carries the same meaning.

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+1 Hence is spot on. –  Jon Purdy May 9 '11 at 15:41
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@FumbleFingers: Huh. So that's what the name's about, then? –  Jon Purdy May 9 '11 at 16:04
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'hence', though it does save space, is a bit too formal sounding and on its way to being archaic. –  Mitch May 9 '11 at 16:39
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@Alix: "5 years hence, I will do this" sounds perfectly fine to me. –  Marthaª May 9 '11 at 16:40
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@Andy F: No, I don't think anyone outside of academia will... That was my snap judgement, but then I checked Google Ngram. I love that thing even though the data is questionable...if the picture is right, you can cherry pick the ones in your favor for an argument! I also don't think anybody will be using the subjunctive or 'shall' either. –  Mitch May 9 '11 at 17:54
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If you are setting the labels for a time machine, both clarity and brevity would be nice. "Ago" is the clearest shortest label for anything in the past, and "ahead" is my preference over "from now".

Side note: Ago comes from the Old English agone, meaning "departed, passed away", as in gone.

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Though, I do like that "from now" contains an explicit reference to a particular point in time to start from (now), whereas this is just implied in "ahead". –  Todd Hopkinson May 9 '11 at 15:48
    
So ahead would be the antonym of late rather than ago? (my product came two years ahead, two years late) –  aka.nice Jan 5 '13 at 1:15
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