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What is the correct way to write the following phrase?

In the mid of 1990s

What are the (writing) variants of that expression? (I just want to know, to diversify my writing.)

Thank you.

  • Have you had a look to see how often it appears on Google? Or looked up Google Ngrams? (Although I'm frankly shocked by the raw Google data.) – Edwin Ashworth May 27 '14 at 22:11
  • It must be a clipped version of "in the middle of the". Something students or ESL speakers might write? "The mid-1990s" is shorter and more conventional, so why bother with this "newer" version? – Mari-Lou A May 28 '14 at 6:42
  • @Mari-Lou: It's not a contraction or ESL. It's dialect. And it's in the OED, which has for this sense: "= middle n. in various senses. Chiefly in in the mid, the mid of. Now Brit. regional." From the two recent citations I can place, I'd guess it is used in Northern England and Scotland – Peter Shor May 28 '14 at 9:45
  • Re 1990s vs 1990's, see ell.stackexchange.com/questions/9199/… . The apostrophe used to be the more common AmE punctuation but is now less common. BrE has never used the apostrophe. – Ben Crowell May 31 '14 at 21:31
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You could say 'In the mid-1990s' or 'In the middle of the 1990s' and that's about it.

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  • Circa 1995. Sometime in the 90s. During Clinton's presidency. – Elliott Frisch May 27 '14 at 23:14
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    Yes. Mid is not used as a noun, but only as a prefix. – Colin Fine May 27 '14 at 23:19
  • @ColinFine I thought so too, but "in the mid of" is all over the internet. I've never heard it in my life, seems to be an American usage. – Neil W May 27 '14 at 23:28
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    @Neil as an American, I have never heard "in the mid of" – AthomSfere May 28 '14 at 1:38
  • -1 That's not about it -- the question would be why? – Kris May 28 '14 at 9:18
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Americans do not use “in the mid of” or “the mid of.” An American writing teacher would grade one down for using either because they are incorrect for Standard American English.

Although many Americans do not write or say “in the midst of,” it is a correct phrase, but not for a time period, such as “the mid-1990s.” Instead one might write or say something like, “In the midst of the mid-1990s economic downturn,...”

Regarding what we see “all over the internet,” I notice an alarming proliferation of incorrect grammar, word usage, and phrasing by Americans. Even old colloquialisms are said incorrectly, most especially by post baby boomer writers. The problem is all over social media, on television, in movies, and in online publications. I tell myself that language evolves, because it does, so what is happening is not inherently negative, but I am very bothered by it anyway. Further, I am as bothered by the incorrect colloquial usage and phrasing as I am incorrect spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and phrasing because it signals lost knowledge of our collective history and our ancestors’ cultural experiences.

There used to be no hard and fast rules about spelling and grammar. Reading historical documents, including census reports, one can see how standardization of American English and the expansion of public education improved written communication, benefiting us in multiple ways. However, the American education system has declined in quality. Since the 1980s, students have been required to read very little and, in turn, most write poorly.

Since the late-1990s, writing for ever-shrinking screens has become the standard, with magazines and newspapers using the same format so that they, too, can be read on screens. Entire words such as “of,” “the,” and other short but longer words than those, are left out entirely so a paragraph will fit.

Because most people under the age of 40 do most, if not all, of their reading and writing on social media sites, the majority of younger people will not or cannot read anything longer than a paragraph; maybe two if they are very short. In fact, many are critical of anyone who writes anything longer than a short paragraph, as if the writers committed a writing faux pas or broke a writing rule. It’s used as a reason to entirely dismiss what is written instead of reading it. Of course, that means ideas, concepts, events, and perceptions cannot be explained with appropriate detail and context, which limits knowledge and undermines learning critical thinking skills.

To write thoughts or provide information using the limited characters required and/or expected for social media, people doing most or all of their communicating on social media sites are forced to use incorrect spelling and sentence structure, and those changes are increasingly being used for writing elsewhere despite it not being necessary or appropriate. That is not surprising though, because people learn spelling, grammar, and sentence structure by reading. We may not be able to explain the rules, but we know what words and sentences should look like because we unconsciously memorized that information while reading. Those doing all of their reading online, as at the same time schools require very little reading at all, are memorizing incorrect rules for writing and incorrect expressions.

Perhaps it is just hard to be a member of a tweener generation, with a foot in each generational culture, observing the rapid evolution.

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To answer the title question: no (except colloquially in a particular British dialect, as someone pointed out in another post).

The problem with using "In the mid-1990s" or "In the middle of the 1990s", as previously suggested, is that "1900s" is itself ambiguous, meaning either "1900–1999" or "1900-1909".

It is thus better to rephrase entirely, to get at a clearer meaning (depending on what the actual intent is): "In the mid-20th century", "circa 1904–1906", or whatever.

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