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I'm writing an application with the embedded Uber taxi app functionality. In short, when the user points to a point near his or her location in our app, a Uber button appears, with the following text:

Go there with Uber in 5 minutes

The exact time varies, of course.

Now, there are two ways to understand this:

  1. An Uber vehicle will be at your location (the origin) in 5 minutes
  2. An Uber vehicle can take you from your location to the destination, and the trip would last 5 minutes.

What's the natural way a native English speaker would interpret this message? Is there an elegant way to disambiguate the message (in both directions)?

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    To say "You'll be at your desired destination in 5 minutes" (including the time it takes to order the cab, for it to arrive at your current location [aka the origin], and the time it takes to get from the origin to the destination) , you'd phrase it as "Be there in 5 minutes with Uber".
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 15, 2015 at 13:32
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    I would interpret that as "at some point, a car will show up to take you to your destination. The ride to your destination will take 5 minutes." Mar 15, 2015 at 13:33
  • Thanks @DanBron ! Any ideas how to convey the first meaning? Would you care to put your response as an answer?
    – Adam Matan
    Mar 15, 2015 at 13:34
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    @Adam, I'm on a mobile device so a full answer is too much work. In re: the first meaning, you could phrase if exactly as you have done ("A cab will be at your location....). It's quite clear.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 15, 2015 at 13:57

2 Answers 2

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I think this is actually fairly unambiguous.

Go there in five minutes

means to begin your journey. "I am going to the store in five minutes." Yes, "leaving" would be even more clear, but that still clearly refers to the moment of departure, not the moment of arrival.

Get there in five minutes

means to complete your journey. "I will get to the store in five minutes." Here it clearly indicates you will arrive in five minutes. Again, "arrive" is even more clear, but "get" works well enough.

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This is definitely ambiguous, however, from my experience with Uber, the intended meaning is the former, since they indicate this ETA before the destination is known.

I believe that if they did not have length restriction due to screen real-estate they could have worded it to say "Be on your way there with Uber in 5 minutes".

Phrasing it ambiguously could be intentional to make the reader think they're going to be in their destination in 5 minutes with protection for Uber that they never indicated that specifically.

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