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Though well versed with English, my wife and I had an argument today on the usage of "by".

When you say "I will come by 6PM", it means I will be there before 6PM and not around 6PM.

Would you agree? or Am I missing something?

Please advise,

- VK
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At 6:00 p.m. or before, but not after.
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AnonymousWhen you say "I will come by 6PM", it means I will be there before 6PM and not around 6PM.
Correct. When 6pm comes, I will already be there; I will have already arrived at that time.

around 6 pm is much more vague. It could be before or after 6pm.

CJ
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Comments  
Would "I should be back by 6:00pm" mean the same? i.e should it be taken that the person "will be back at 6 or before 6"?

Or can't the 'should' and 'by' be used in the same sentence?
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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AnonymousWould "I should be back by 6:00pm" mean the same?
Not the same as "I will be back by 6 pm". should introduces the idea of expectation. will may suggest a promise. The two are different.

The paraphrase is "I expect that when the clock indicates '6 pm', I will have already returned".

should and by in the same sentence is perfectly fine.

CJ