8

E.g., I would like to say

X was almost impossible to be used in research until 2000s despite being invented a decade ago

In this sentence, I would like to express that X was invented in 1990s.

Would this sentence be understandable? Or do I have to say

...despite being invented in 1990s?

I would like to emphasize the temporal relationship if possible.

  • 3
    "Was almost impossible to be used" is clumsy and poor English. Most of the answers provide alternatives that would be used by educated English native speakers. – David Nov 2 '18 at 18:40
  • 1
    Also, "research" is a mass noun, so is generally not pluralized. – Acccumulation Nov 2 '18 at 21:01
  • I'd write “was invented in [year] but rarely used in research before [year]”. – Anton Sherwood Nov 4 '18 at 6:44
33

Using ago is ambiguous at best, and misleading at worst. (Because ago is naturally assumed to be relative to now, not the other date.)

You are free to give a specific date.

Or you can use some other words instead of ago:

. . . was not used in research until 2000, despite being invented a decade prior.
. . . was not used in research until 2000, despite being invented a decade before then.
. . . was not used in research until 2000, despite being invented in the previous decade.

  • 8
    "...decade before" also works, if you wish to omit the "then". – Freddie R Nov 2 '18 at 12:29
  • 3
    I like prior; as this sounds like kind of a formal piece of writing: "The Internet was almost impossible to use in research until the 2000s, despite being invented a decade prior." Also, you might want to say, "...use for research..." – Tom Hundt Nov 2 '18 at 17:40
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    @TomHundt — I hate "prior". Use "previously" as was done in the 20th century. That way you maintain the continuity of the English language rather than following the latest linguistic fad. – David Nov 2 '18 at 18:37
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    @David "Prior" was commonly used in this way in the 20th century — and the 19th. It's not any sort of fad. And it isn't so unwieldy as "previously". – hobbs Nov 2 '18 at 20:26
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    I don't like the use of "being" in these examples. Ought it not to be the present perfect continuous, "having been"? I.e. "...despite having been invented a decade earlier". – WS2 Nov 3 '18 at 22:16
34

"xxx was almost impossible to use in researches until 2000s despite being invented a decade earlier."

Collins:

earlier

  1. adverb [ADVERB with verb]
    Earlier is used to refer to a point or period in time before the present or before the one you are talking about.

COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

Usage Example from Wikipedia:

Columbia was destroyed at about 09:00 EST on February 1, 2003 while re-entering the atmosphere after a 16-day scientific mission. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board determined that a hole was punctured in the leading edge on one of Columbia's wings, which was made of a carbon composite. The hole had formed when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank peeled off during the launch 16 days earlier and struck the shuttle's left wing.

Here it is clear that 16 days is with respect to Feb 1, 2003 and not now.

  • 1
    Or 'a decade before'. – Kate Bunting Nov 2 '18 at 8:54
  • Yes, earlier and before are clearly the best adverbs to use here. – Peter Shor Nov 2 '18 at 11:16
  • 3
    "Was almost impossible to be used" is poor English and although used by the poster should not be repeated. – David Nov 2 '18 at 18:33
6

The correct adverb would be either beforehand or @alwayslearning's suggestion of earlier, but the verb tense is also affected.

xxx remained unused in research until the 2000s despite having been invented a decade beforehand

The verb form here reinforces that the invention is already in the past, at the point being discussed.

But it's probably clearer if you stick to chronological order:

Despite being invented in the 1990s, xxx remained unused in research for another decade.

0

What about rephrasing this to something like:

It took almost a decade for X to be used in research following its invention in 199x.

This way you can stress that it was hard to apply X (probably because it required cheaper Y, or faster Z), not just stating the facts.

(I assume here) Since you talk about science, you probably can use this opportunity to cite some papers:

Invented in 1990s [ref 1], it took almost a decade to see the first application of X in research [ref 2]

0

Despite being invented in the early 1990s, it was almost impossible to use X in research until nearly a decade later

0

I'd change ago for before, i.e.:

X was almost impossible to be used in research until 2000s, despite being invented a decade before

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