General Writing and Grammar Help/BY

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Question
Hi

What does BY in the following conversation mean?

A: When do you usually get to work?

B: BY eight thirty.

Thanks

Answer
Dear Farhad:

What does BY in the following conversation mean?

A: When do you usually get to work?

B: BY eight thirty.

**** B's answer is probably NOT what A expected.  A is asking for the "usual time" when B's work ends.  

B cannot give a specific answer, which means that, at certain times, he may have to work past his regular schedule OR he may be permitted to leave work a few minutes early.  When B uses "by," he is signaling that he cannot give a specific time.  The preposition "by" can be replaced with another preposition, "ABOUT eight thirty."

If B "always" leaves at the same time, his response would be "AT eight thirty."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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