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I've studied English for only a few years so my English may sound strange. I'm sorry if what I wrote doesn't make much sense.

The other day at my English class, my teacher corrected my answer "I will have finished my homework before noon." into "I will have finished my homework by noon.

Then my questions are as follows.

・ In general, can "will have done... " and "before ..." be used together?

・ If not, why? What makes it incorrect?

・ If it's OK, which of "by" and "before" sounds more natural?

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  • I remember a rule for "by & until", where "by" means "not later then".
    – FrankMK
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 10:11
  • 'I will have this place tidy by noon' sounds more natural to me than 'I will have this place tidy before noon'. However, 'I will have this place tidy well before noon' is certainly idiomatic. Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 10:12

2 Answers 2

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In fact, both are grammatically correct. But "by noon" is the most common phrase for the English speakers. Literature too abounds of the examples where eminent authors have used "by noon" (All right, sweetheart, I'll be through by noon for sure-The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs).

Though 'before noon' is correct, but since it is not generally used, nowadays it may seem obsolete and somewhat peculiar to the ears of an English speaker.

Your teacher has corrected your rightly because correct English is the one which appeals correctly to the ears of English speakers. Moreover, even for non-native speakers like me, "by noon" conveys the meaning of "till noon" better than "before noon."

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Dictionary.com gives a definition of "by" as "6. not later than; at or before," so simply saying "before [time]" wouldn't include the exact moment of [time].

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  • But then nobody can tell when an exact moment of time occurs. Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 11:01
  • Obviously there's a lower limit to specificity in common usage, so "before noon" usually means "before the clock strikes 12:00:00." If you're not sure about this, go track down an undergrad procrastinating on homework that has an impending automated deadline.
    – CJ Sheu
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 11:16
  • I'm implying that the pragmatics and idiomaticity of the situation probably swamp a more logical approach. As I say above, 'I will have this place tidy by noon' sounds more natural to me than (in unmarked usage) 'I will have this place tidy before noon'. Though both seem logically available. And the latter might be used for emphasis as a counter-argument or to stress contrast. And 'I will have this place tidy well before noon' is fine. Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 14:22
  • How does this answer the question? Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 4:40

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