'by [date]' with reference to deadlines

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New Member
This is my first post here so hello everyone :)

I have a very practical question.
How should I understand such expression: 'Please, send your application by 1st May' (or any other data),
Is this clear and precise in English? Because to me it sounds ambiguously...I wouldn't know if the latest moment to send the application is the evening of the 30th April or the end of the next day (of 1st May)
  • Comrade Momentai

    Senior Member
    If they wanted you to send it on the evening of the 30th they would have said "before" instead of "by". The expression is up to and including the day of the 1st of May.


    New Member
    Thank you very much for the answer :) Now it is clear to me.
    I wasn't sure because due to my dictionary 'by' is a synonymous with 'before / not later thann'..... With reference to a precise moment in time 'before' and 'not later than' means exactly the same, but if we speak about a day it's not the same anymore. This is why I was asking. Thanks again


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would understand it as Comrade Momentai does; 'by a date' includes that date.
    However other people understand it differently.
    See this thread, for example: Until/by + date

    This thread includes links to other discussions of this topic:
    The reason the question has been raised repeatedly is that there is no universal agreement on the issue. That is, you are correct that it can be ambiguous.

    If this is important to you, I suggest that you contact the people involved and ask them directly. If you need to hand something in at the last possible minute, it would be much better to know the exact deadline ahead of time.
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