once per year, once a year, once in a year

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Olga_Olga, May 19, 2009.

  1. Olga_Olga New Member

    Lisbon
    Russia - Russian, English, Portuguese
    Please, could you clear up for me what is the difference in the usage of the following phrases:
    once/twice... per year, once/twice... a year, once/twice.... in a year? Is it true that the first one sounds more official? Is the last one correct at all?

    Thank you!
    Olga
     
  2. manon33 Senior Member

    English - England (Yorkshire)
    Once a year is also fine and as you suggest, slightly less formal.
     
  3. In every case I can think of 'once a year' is all that's necessary.

    Rover
     
  4. manon33 Senior Member

    English - England (Yorkshire)
    I would agree, on the whole; legal documents (which would avoid 'once a year') tend to use 'annually', don't they?
     
  5. Crimson-Sky

    Crimson-Sky Senior Member

    بلاد بابل - Babylonia
    Arabic-العربية
    I was faced with this problem a while ago, is once in a while wrong ? Or is it the same as once a while ?
    Thank you.
     
  6. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    I've never heard of "once a while". Do you have an example of its use that you can share with us? The correct form, to my knowledge, is "once in a while".

    Edited to add: I'm astounded to have just found around 300 uses of "once a while" on Australian web pages. Some are quoting foreign pages and the rest are either very casual language or "(I met him) once(,) a while (ago)", but it looks as though it is used by some sections of the Australian community, in a very informal register, to mean "once in a while". Personally, I find it very odd indeed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  7. Crimson-Sky

    Crimson-Sky Senior Member

    بلاد بابل - Babylonia
    Arabic-العربية
    Thank you so much for your answer, what about once in a decade/century/year/..., are they equivalent to once a decade/century/year/... ?
    This phenomena happens once a decade or this phenomena happens once in a decade ?
     
  8. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I think the versions are used in different contexts. Once a decade describes the frequency of foreseeable events; once in a decade describes the frequency of unforeseeable events.

    This light phenomenon happens once a decade.
    You can feel that happy only once in a decade.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  9. Crimson-Sky

    Crimson-Sky Senior Member

    بلاد بابل - Babylonia
    Arabic-العربية
    Thank you so much.
     

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