I have recently read the following quote from a famous vegan activist:

How would you feel if the moment you were born someone else had already planned the day of your execution?

However, I think that there is an "at" missing:

How would you feel if at the moment you were born someone else had already planned the day of your execution?

Is this correct? Also, I think there should be no commas, right? Thank you very much.


Consider this sentence:

The moment I rang the dinner bell, the hordes descended on the dining room.

Yes, you could say "At the moment I rang the dinner bell", but you don't need to, and the sentence flows better without "at".

Same with your sentence.

About commas -- you could use commas, but they're optional here. It's not a very long or complex sentence, so you don't really need any.

  • More generally, there are many contexts where we don't need to use a preposition to introduce a point in time. He was born [on] Christmas Day. I'll see you [at] midday. And I suppose we used to have I'll see you [on] the morrow before on the morrow got collapsed into tomorrow. – FumbleFingers Sep 5 '16 at 1:01
  • Although clearly recognised here, He was born Christmas Day and I'll see you midday are never used in British English. That almost makes it odd that we used to have I'll see you [on] the morrow before that got collapsed into tomorrow - but let's remember the intermediate stage when for a very long time the usage was always to-morrow, to-day, to-night, as I've been reminded this week by reading a book published 100 years ago. I suspect that some areas of Scottish and (particularly Southern) Irish English did and still do use I'll see you the morrow… – Robbie Goodwin Sep 18 '16 at 22:34
  • @RobbieGoodwin - not sure what your comment really says about my answer (or the OP's question), but perhaps I should point out that my "hordes" sentence did not say "the hordes descended the dining room." In other words, I'm not saying we should minimize at all costs the use of prepositions, to the point of obstructing understanding or interfering with cultural expression. – aparente001 Sep 19 '16 at 6:29
  • Aparente, I don’t think I made any comment touching your answer. I thought I was talking about whether Fumble’s Christmas and tomorrow fitted British and many-another version of English. Has something been deleted that I missed, please? ‘Had already’ demands to balanced by the ‘at’, yes. Commas would make very little difference, good or bad. ’At the moment’ focuses on an exact time in the present, as ‘I’m busy at the moment’ or ‘what are you doing at the moment.’ – Robbie Goodwin Sep 19 '16 at 17:24
  • @RobbieGoodwin - Oh, I see what happened. I think your comment appeared automatically in my comment box because of me being the author of the answer it was attached to. But I didn't think about that, and I didn't notice that you didn't put my username in your comment. Sorry! Carry on! – aparente001 Sep 20 '16 at 3:50

The "at" is not needed simply because the day of your execution was not decided "at the time of your birth" but rather as part of a larger system of what I presume to be commercialized farming.

That is to say the actual birth itself is yet another step on the road to your death because you're already marked for death, not by a farmer or someone else specifically picking "this one will be killed" or "this one with be spared."

  • I'm sorry, but I can't understand your explanation. You say that the day of execution was not decided at the time of birth, but that's exactly what the sentence says. Not just decided, but planned. Whether this is done by a literal person or metaphorically by the "larger system" would seem to have no effect on the syntax. the moment X is an idiomatic adverbial of time that doesn't need a preposition, like tomorrow, but unlike tomorrow can take one. Thus planned the moment you were born is as unremarkable as *planned at the moment you were born. They mean the same thing. – deadrat Sep 4 '16 at 23:27
  • I agree that in an end-result point of view, they do mean the same thing. From a the point of view of when the decision was made, there is a difference. – Caleb Williams Sep 5 '16 at 0:24
  • Presumably the decision was made before the planning was completed because that's they way things generally work. But the word already means that the both decision and planning were in place before the blessed event. I still don't see how the presence or absence of at would change that. – deadrat Sep 5 '16 at 4:36

I think if you use "at the moment", it means you focus on an exact moment, an exact position that is remarkable in your life. In this case, i think it doesn't mean like that. The quote doen't emphasize on WHEN you were born, therefore, you don't need to add a preposition before "the moment".

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