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Several years ago, when I was watching a show, it was 15:45 and the show started at 16:00. A foreigner asked me: "When will this show start?"

My English is not good, and I never talked to foreigners. I was very nervous then. I told him: "15 minutes later", but he seemed to not understand. So I thought it wasn't correct, and told him: "in 15 minutes". This time he understood.

I want to know if "in 15 minutes" is correct and "15 minutes later" is wrong under that condition? What's the difference between them?

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@JeffSahol, thank you for correcting my mistakes! – Freewind Aug 25 '11 at 16:38
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The phrase "in 15 minutes" is correct. It means after 15 minutes elapses, which is precisely when the show starts. The problem with "15 minutes later" is that it's not clear that it's relative to the present.

One show can start 15 minutes later than another, but if a show simply "starts 15 minutes later" -- later than what? The phrase "later" has to compare things such that one of them can be later than the other(s).

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can I say "15 minutes later than current" or "15 minutes later than now"? Are they correct and native? – Freewind Aug 25 '11 at 16:33
You can say "15 minutes later than now". It makes sense, but it is not natural. – Joseph Aug 25 '11 at 16:40
@Freewind they might be strictly correct, but they will sound unusual to native speakers. Both "in 15 minutes" and "15 minutes from now" sound natural to native speakers. – jimreed Aug 25 '11 at 16:41
@Freewind - You could correctly (from a grammatical standpoint) say "15 minutes later than now", but it's probably not something a native speaker would say in that circumstance. "15 minutes later than current" is not correct. – Dusty Aug 25 '11 at 16:42
Thanks to every body, I understand it now :) – Freewind Aug 25 '11 at 16:47

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