Today I got an e-mail from a guy I had a meeting. He was late and he wrote me "I should be in by 11". I understood what he meant but I wonder is this sentence grammatically correct or not ? I never saw such a usage for "in" and using "in" and "by" together seems to me a little bit suspicious.

  • 1
    Have you looked up in in a dictionary, specifically the uses labelled as ‘adverb’ (it’s not actually an adverb, but most dictionaries call prepositions with no object adverbs)? This is a perfectly normal usage of in that can be found in any dictionary, which I’m afraid makes your question off-topic here. Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 10:21
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    Don't worry about every pair of consecutive words; for example, "guy I" (in your first sentence) is not a common phrase, but the sentence as a whole works.  (Well, actually, it's a bit awkward, but never mind that.)  Do you understand what it means to use "by" together with a time? Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 4:48
  • @Scott , I guess I do: it means I am going to be there starting from 11.00 AM ? :)
    – zwlayer
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 9:51
  • "by" a stated time means at that time or before.  For example, "I need that report by 3:00."  Arguably, if the guy came in at 10:00 and left at 10:30, he could say "I was in by 11:00."  If you don't understand that, you might do better at the English Language Learners site. Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


In the sentence you gave, in is not used as a preposition but as an adjective:


1 [predicative] Present at one's home or office.

‘we knocked at the door but there was no one in’

definition from oxforddictionaries.com

It becomes more apparent if you move by 11 to the beginning of the sentence:

By 11, I should be in.

Or if you replace the time with something else:

I should be in when they arrive.

The sentence is grammatically correct.

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