"I'll read that book in 2 hours." I'm pretty sure this phrase means that after 2 hours from now I will start reading the book, but I can't stop thinking that it could also means that it will take me 2 hours to read (and finish) that book. My friend says that for the second meaning the following phrase would be more appropriate: "I'll read that book for 2 hours." Which also makes senso to me, but I get the idea that maybe I won't be able to finish it in just 2 hours. Could some native speaker elighten me on this problem? Can the first phrase be interpreted in both ways? Thank you in advance.

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    You are correct that the first is ambiguous. Your friend is wrong- that sentence means you will read for a length of time of 2 hours, but it says nothing about whether you will finish it in that time. I’d likely say either, “I can read that whole book in two hours.” or “It’ll only take me two hours to read that book.” – Jim Dec 16 '15 at 23:00
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    I think most people would take it to mean that after two hours time you would have the book completely read. (Thin book or fast reader.) "I will begin reading the book in two hours" would mean that two hours from now you will start reading. – Hot Licks Dec 16 '15 at 23:02
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    @Jim: I'd say the for 2 hours strongly implies you don't expect to finish the book in that amount of reading time (usually, starting from now). OP's first version is, as you say, ambiguous, but I pragmatically I think It'll take me two hours to read it would be the far more likely intended sense. And if you did intend the Two hours from now I'll start reading it sense, you might well say I'll read it in 2 hours time (you'd definitely do something like that if you were at all bothered about any possible ambiguity). – FumbleFingers Dec 16 '15 at 23:25
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    The most common interpretation of "I'll read that book in 2 hours"—without any other context—would be that it will take two hours to read the book. – ralph.m Dec 16 '15 at 23:34
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    The alternative meaning of "Two hours from now, I will read that book" is on equal footing. In speech the meanings would be distinguished by intonation. – Matt Samuel Dec 17 '15 at 0:22

"I'll read that book in two hours" generally means that whenever you start to read the book, it will take you only two hours to finish it; i. e., you are a very fast reader! Otherwise, it would be ambiguous (hard to understand) without additional sentences on either side to give more information about your plans for reading.

"I'll read that book for two hours" means that whenever you start to read the book, after two hours have passed you will stop reading it, without regard to how far along you have gotten in the book.

As you correctly stated, the proper sentence is, "Two hours from now I will start reading the book," if that is what you intend to do, and no implication is made as to how long you will read or whether or not you plan to finish the book in one sitting.

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