I'm studying prepositions. In this part of speech, I'm confused between the use of 'in' and 'during':

  1. Rani Laxmi Bai was killed during the war. (❌)

  2. Rani Laxmi Bai was killed in the war. (✔)

How is the first one incorrect?

  • 1
    Good question! I'm thinking your book isn't telling the real story.
    – tchrist
    Jun 8 '19 at 16:26
  • 8
    Barring additional context, the first sentence isn't incorrect. (Although it could mean that he was killed while lying in bed at home at the same time that other people fought in the war.) Jun 8 '19 at 16:29
  • 1
    As an example of the difference, and I apologise or using an example from classic British TV comedy, Wilson was a soldier in the first world war but during the second world war he worked in a bank. However he did join the Home Guard in the second world war. His work at the bank was nothing to with the conduct of the war but his military activity, both professional and voluntary, was.
    – BoldBen
    Jun 9 '19 at 11:04
  • 1
    Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, apparently died in 1858 when shot by a hussar while she was wearing a military uniform and after she had just fired a pistol at the hussar who had previously wounded her during a cavalry engagement. So both during and in fit here.
    – Henry
    Jun 9 '19 at 15:52

In some contexts in and during are interchangeable. But here, as Jason Bassford points out, in means more than just "during the time of": it implies that her death was in some way because of the war - she was fighting, or she was bombed, or perhaps she was executed as a spy.

During would here mean just "during the time of the war", and choosing it rather than in would imply, as Jason says, that her death was not connected with the war.

  • 11
    No, I don't think it would necessarily imply it; it would leave the implication open, though, and there might be a Quantity Maxim convention that would invite it. Jun 8 '19 at 19:43
  • 9
    For anyone confused by John Lawler's comment: linguists use "imply" in the way that mathematicians do, whereby "X implies Y" means that if X is true, then Y is certainly true as well. This answer, by contrast, is using the word "imply" in the ordinary (non-technical) sense, whereby "X implies Y" means that X gives the impression of Y without stating it outright. The disagreement is because a sentence like "Five of them died during the war: three in battle, two from the flu pandemic" shows that "during the war" does not certainly preclude "in the war".
    – ruakh
    Jun 9 '19 at 3:43
  • Also, the "Quantity Maxim" refers to Paul Grice's conversational maxims.
    – V2Blast
    Jun 9 '19 at 19:15

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