postpone ... for or ...by

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luanzhu

New Member
Chinese (Mandarin, mainland China)
Hi, all

I am having a hard time with "postpone". I am trying to reschedule a meeting from 10AM to noon. Which of the following is better?

I am wondering whether it is possible to postpone our meeting by two hours until 12 noon tomorrow.

I am wondering whether it is possible to postpone our meeting for two hours until 12 noon tomorrow.

By the way, should I use ? (question mark) other than . (dot) at the end of the sentence?

Thanks a lot!
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Which of the following is better?

    I am wondering whether it is possible to postpone our meeting by two hours until 12 noon tomorrow.
    In normal business AE (American English), you would not need to specify the length of the postponement. Whether you end the sentence with a period/full stop or with a question mark really depends on the tone you wish to convey. If you are writing this as a question, use this: ? If you mean it to be a gentle suggestion, then a full stop/period is good.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I agree with cuchu that since you indicate the new time of the appointment, there is no need to say "(by/for) two hours" - it's superfluous.

    However, it does make me wonder what I would say if, for example, I didn't know quite what time something wound up starting or was supposed to start originally, or if I cared more to express the amount of postponement instead of the actual start time. I think that both "by" and "for" sound decent, as does nothing at all! In order of preference:

    (1) The game was postponed two hours due to rain.
    (2) The game was postponed for two hours due to rain.
    (3) The game was postponed by two hours due to rain.

    Of course, I think we'd normally use "delay" here - but even then I'm not sure which preposition, if any, would be best.

    Thoughts?
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Now that Brian has addressed what I intentionally ducked, I will say that I agree with his order of preferences, but I think that 3) is in a very distant third place.
     

    IParleFrench

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I agree with cuchu that since you indicate the new time of the appointment, there is no need to say "(by/for) two hours" - it's superfluous.

    However, it does make me wonder what I would say if, for example, I didn't know quite what time something wound up starting or was supposed to start originally, or if I cared more to express the amount of postponement instead of the actual start time. I think that both "by" and "for" sound decent, as does nothing at all! In order of preference:

    (1) The game was postponed two hours due to rain.
    (2) The game was postponed for two hours due to rain.
    (3) The game was postponed by two hours due to rain.

    Of course, I think we'd normally use "delay" here - but even then I'm not sure which preposition, if any, would be best.

    Thoughts?
    That's true; you could get away without using either one. But if using one, I'd much prefer "by" over "for."

    As for whether to use "by" or nothing at all, for me it depends on the context. In written form, I'd generally include it. When talking (especially casually) and writing casually, I'd likely omit it.
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    My preferences go (2), (1), (3) from your list, "by" being a distant third. I think I would favor a vague "they" instead of a passive construction when using "postpone."

    "They postponed the game for two hours because of the rain."
    "The game was delayed for two hours because of the rain."

    I'm not entirely sure why this is so.
     
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