4

Time adverbial phrases seem very confusing. Google doesn’t show any past questions on this. I’d like to ask how I should write a sentence with a temporal phrase indicating season and year:

[subject] [verb] [temporal adverbial phrase]

Now the problem is with the temporal adverbial phrase. Do I have to use the definite article to denote seasons? Do I have to you the preposition "in"? And what combinations work? What don’t? A comment helpfully suggests this version works: in the season of year. And I’d like to know what other versions work. What makes it really confusing is we see similar phrases in headlines all the time with random words omitted, even in the body of online articles. For example:

  1. Morgan Hill City Officials voted 5-0 to pass the Butterfield Fire Station construction to start summer 2023. 2. New Football Operations/Development Building. Projected to start Summer 2023 and be done by Winter 2024. 3. The project is planned to start summer of 2023.

So some variations I have thought of are, and I’d like to know, as a very specific question about grammaticality and style, to what degrees are these acceptable in writing, and to what degrees can they be used in headlines:

  • ✅I started learning Java summer 2010.
  • ✅I started learning Java summer of 2010.
  • I started learning Java in summer 2010.
  • I started learning Java the summer 2010.
  • ✅I started learning Java the summer of 2010.
  • I started learning Java in the summer 2010.
  • I started learning Java in summer of 2010.
  • I started learning Java in the summer of 2010.
  • Summer 2010, I started learning Java.
  • Summer of 2010, I started learning Java.
  • The summer 2010, I started learning Java.
  • The summer of 2010, I started learning Java.
  • In summer 2010, I started learning Java.
  • In the summer 2010, I started learning Java.
  • ✅In summer of 2010, I started learning Java.
  • In the summer of 2010, I started learning Java.
6
  • 1
    It is more considerate, when asking for help, to limit examples to a few likely candidates without many that are clearly off. Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 21:12
  • @YosefBaskin Why not do things well once and for all and get a definite result on a question that is truly a question of usage? There aren't that many options to weed out. I must say though, that personally I won't be able to help much.
    – LPH
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 0:07
  • 1
    Well, I personally would use in the summer/winter of [year], but others may find other versions acceptable. Which phrase you put first depends on the emphasis required. Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 8:44
  • @tchrist Can I have this question migrated to English Learners? I thought the current form was specific enough and with enough details but if it still doesn't work here maybe it should go to English Learners?
    – desmo
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 19:21
  • A lot of your examples are misleading because they're not written in proper English, they're in summary, note, or headline format: "New Football Operations/Development Building. Projected to start Summer 2023 and be done by Winter 2024." isn't proper English prose. And "Morgan Hill City Officials voted 5-0 to pass the Butterfield Fire Station construction to start summer 2023" is grammatical (at least in the USA) but is very terse. Find examples from the sort of writing you want to do.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 20:55

1 Answer 1

1

Measure for Measure

You’ve combined a lot of permutations, some of which are ok but many of which are unlikely to go over well. These sorts would probably be ok in most circumstances:

  1. I learned Java in/over/during/starting the summer of 2010.
  2. I learned Java the summer of 2010.
  3. The summer of 2020 was when I first started learning Java.
  4. Summer of 2020 was when I first started learning Java.
  5. Winter 2019 I finished learning C++, so Summer 2020 I began learning Java.

But precisely when you can skip one or another preposition, and when you can front the adverbial, is a bit complicated.


Measure phrases are a subtype of noun phrase that enjoy various special syntactic properties.

One of these properties is that measure phrases of time, duration, and frequency can function as adjuncts all on their own, modifying other syntactic elements without needing any preposition like in, from, or for — nor for that matter any postposition like ago or away, either.

These can be adnominal adjuncts the way they are here:

  • The discussion that night left them unconvinced.

But more commonly they’re adverbial adjuncts the way they are here:

  • They left unconvinced that night.
  • They worked three days, then left.
  • I’m working nights this week.
  • They studied for their exam all week.
  • I leave for France next week.
  • The dinner special runs three hours nightly.
  • Her Majesty reigned three-score years and ten.
  • She was gone five minutes when the phone rang.
  • We met in France last Christmas.

As you see, deictic elements like this, next, last are especially common in these.

Some kinds of these temporal measure phrases serving as adverbial adjuncts can be fronted for focus giving special emphasis to the measure phrases, but other types cannot. (Doing so can sometimes trigger inversion, but rarely.)

  • That night they left unconvinced.
  • Three days they worked, then left.
  • Nights this week I’m working.
  • Next week I leave for France.
  • All week they studied for their exam.
  • Three hours nightly the dinner special runs.
  • Three-score years and ten reigned Her Majesty.
  • Five minutes she was gone when the phone rang.
  • Last Christmas we met in France.

Locative measure phrases can also be adverbial adjuncts unadorned by adpositions when the context allows:

  • I ran ten miles that day.
  • Ten miles I ran that day.
  • Ten miles did I run that day.

Of course, that day is also an adverbial adjunct of this type, only temporal this time, not locative. It too can be fronted:

  • That day I ran ten miles.

For more information, you might perhaps care to look at the teacher training materials on time adjuncts from ELT Concourse.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.