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The other day I was listening to a BBC Radio 4 podcast during which they interviewed an American Senator; forgive me but I can't remember his name. Anyway, at one point he mention the expression:

"in the near term"

Now initially, I thought that as he was speaking 'live' he had confused two fairly strong collocations being:

"in the short term" with "in the near future" and had fused them together as this kind of 'error' is fairly common with native speakers when we begin speaking with one idiomatic expression in mind and then change horses midstream as a second closely related idiom or expression becomes somewhat stronger in our minds, especially during natural conversations rather than staged or scripted 'public speaking'.

However, after doing a quick corpus check on the British National Corpus, I found seven instances of it being registered; all but one being from electronic online newspapers or journals. Now this is not the usually response to a collocation search as one would expect to find well over 300 responses.

Personally, until today I would probably have made students aware of the two alternatives I highlighted in blue above and probably put the learners 'error' down to mixing them up. But now I'm not so sure, especially as I heard a second US native speaker say the same collocation today on another podcast.

So my question is this, mainly directed at US English speakers, as I haven't yet heard a UK English native speaker say it (but that may well change soon!)

1. Would you say that "in the near term" is a widely used/strong collocation in US English or other varieties of English?

2. How would you deal with a learner who produced that construction?
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Both seem fine to me, and well represented:

At the NYT:

"in the near term" 165 Results
http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?query=%22in+the+near+term%22+&srchst=nyt

"in the short term" 448 Results
http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?query=%22in+the+short+term%22+&srchst=nyt
BTW, "in the near term" it's present in the UK too.

Try a search with
"in the near term" bbc
at Yahoo and you will find many BBC articles such as this:

BBC NEWS | Business | New mortgages near to 10-year low

The number of mortgages approved in the UK falls to the lowest level for nearly ... of England will raise rates in the near term and they probably should cut rates ...
news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4144979.stm
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Thanks MariusEmotion: smile

It was only 'in the near term' that I was interested in, as 'in the short/long term' is well established.

I also noted 'in the medium term' as well after doing a search on the BBC site.

But looking at opposites such as short versus long term, how would you feel about 'in the far term' as being the opposite to 'in the near term'?

My BBC search yielded no instances of this; only vaguely connected items such as:

One of the saddest things for me in this election so far has been the use of the term 'asylum seeker' by both New Labour and the Tories as something dangerous, feared and to be kept out at all costs.

I don't think
in the far term
is well established.

Don't see it at the NYT.
Who knows? Although it doesn't appear to be in common usage yet, perhaps our posts will inadvertently establish it...Emotion: wink
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I hear "near term" used quite often, usually when comparing it to "long term." I can guess that came from "near future." Maybe "short term" seems temporary, or maybe people thought it was too close to "short sighted."