5

For example:

By 2020, there will be a shortage of toilets in Germany.

Or:

Germany plans to eliminate all landfills by 2020.

According to dict.cc and Linguee, there seems to be 3 ways of doing it:

  • bis 2020
  • bis im Jahr 2020
  • bis zum Jahr 2020

Are there any differences between them, and which one is the most appropriate? Please link any resources/articles if possible. It was hard finding info for this very basic question.

Please note: It also seemed that "bis 2020" could also mean "until 2020", instead of "by 2020". I am looking for the German equivalent of "by 2020".

For example, I am looking for:

All cars will be banned by 2020.

Instead of:

All cars will be banned until 2020.

Let's say the current year is 2010. The first sentence implies that not all cars are banned in 2010, but they will all be in the year 2020 (and probably forever after that). The second sentence implies that all cars are currently banned in 2010, and will be banned to the year 2020. But after 2020, the ban will be lifted.

More info: For example, if I say that a law will be active "by 2020", it means that it is not active now, but it will be from 2020 onward. Whereas if I say that a law will be active "until 2020", it means that it is active now, but only until/to 2020.

I'm looking for the German equivalent for the first sentences ("by").


EDIT
I have noticed that the "by 2020" in the first two examples are (unintentionally) slightly different in German. The first example seem to indicate that there is no shortage now, but in 2020, there will suddenly be a shortage. In this case "ab" is appropriate. The second example seem to indicate that the elimination of landfills have started, and in 2020, there will be none left. In this case "bis" is more appropriate. This was what I was trying to get.

  • 1
    What is the difference between "until 2020" and "by 2020"? Please give examples to clarify this difference. To me (German native speaker) this seems to be exactly the same, therefore I don't understand that part of your question. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 5 '17 at 7:52
  • 1
    I've updated the question. More info: For example, if I say that a law will be active "by 2020", it means that it is not active now, but it will be 2020 onward. Whereas if I say that a law will be active "until 2020", it means that it is active now, but only until/to 2020. – imagentab Aug 5 '17 at 8:43
7

With a certain key date in mind, English tends to concentrate on the time span until this date - German rather expresses this as a from this date. All your examples would be expressed that way, as I see no development that would make us concentrate on the time span until the key date in your example sentences.

bis is normally used when we describe something that happens before the key date - a development that happens from now until it is finished at the key date, ab should be used if something important happens at or after the key date.

Die Regierung plant, ab 2020 offene Mülldeponien nicht mehr zuzulassen.

... starting from 2020, landfills will no longer...

In case we see a development, and the development is more important than the exact key date, the time span before that date becomes interesting, which is covered by bis:

Bis 2020 werden zunehmend weniger Mülldeponien zugelassen werden (ab 2020 werden sie dann ganz verboten werden).

Clearly a development that happens before the key date, leading to some stop gap at the key date.

  • Yes, I think "bis 2020" would be more appropriate then. For example, I would like to say that starting from now, landfills will start to close down. And by 2020, all landfills will be closed. – imagentab Aug 5 '17 at 9:34
  • By the way, are there are no differences between "bis 2020", "bis im 2020" and "bis zum 2020"? – imagentab Aug 5 '17 at 9:56
  • Of these three, only "bis 2020" is correct. "Bis zum Jahr 2020" is possible. – RHa Aug 5 '17 at 13:36
  • In the case of a phrase like "cars will be banned by 2020", the meaning is "cars will be banned, starting at some point between now and 2020 and going forward." – hobbs Aug 5 '17 at 15:37
  • @hobbs That I don't get - Cars can either be banned or not, but not "gradually banned" until 2020. – tofro Aug 5 '17 at 16:50
4

By 2020, there will be a shortage of toilets in Germany.

Ab 2020 wird es ein Mangel an Toiletten geben. In this case you cannot translate by by bis. In such a case, you need to use ab. So in a case when you talk about something that will start in the future and goes beyond, then use ab.

Germany plans to eliminate all landfills by 2020.

Deutschland plant alle Mülldeponien bis 2020 zu schließen.

All cars will be banned by 2020.

Bis zum Jahr 2020 werden alle Autos verboten werden. In this case you want to focus on the deadline 2020. Here, the process is from the present until 2020 and using bis is perfectly fine.

All cars will be banned until 2020.

Bis zum Jahr 2020 werden alle Autos verboten werden. In this case your focus is on the time until all cars will be banned.

1

I beginn with

All cars will be banned by/until 2020.

If you want to say

Today, the Parliament has passed a ban of cars that will come into force in 2020.

Then this is in German

Alle Autos werden ab 2020 verboten sein.

or

Ab 2020 werden alle Autos verboten sein.

(Since the date seems to be the most important part of this sentence, I would put it on position 1 of the sentence.)
Note, that this sentence is in future tense (Futur I).

But if you want to say

All cars are banned now, but this ban will be lifted in 2020.

Then it is

Alle Autos sind bis 2020 verboten.
Bis 2020 sind alle Autos verboten.

This is in present tense (Präsens).

It only gets complicated, if you mix future tense and bis:

Bis 2020 werden alle Autos verboten sein.

This is absolutely correct German, and it is good style, but without context it can mean both. It can mean, that in 2020 a ban comes into force, but it also can mean, that in 2020 a ban will be lifted.

This means:

By 2020, there will be a shortage of toilets in Germany.

can be translated as

Bis 2020 wird es in Deutschland einen Mangel an Toiletten geben.

which can mean both:

  1. Beginning from 2020, there will be a shortage, but now everything is fine.
  2. There is a shortage now, but it will last only up to 2020.

I think, you mean #1, and so I'd use this translation, because it is not ambiguous:

Ab 2020 wird es in Deutschland einen Mangel an Toiletten geben.

But if you mean #2, you just have to put the sentence into present tense:

Bis 2020 gibt es in Deutschland einen Mangel an Toiletten.

And also:

Germany plans to eliminate all landfills by 2020.
Deutschland plant, ab 2020 alle Deponien zu beseitigen.

This means: Germany has now a plan, but doesn't do anything now. It will start to eliminate landfills in 2020, but nobody knows how long it will last.

  • I appreciate your detailed answer. I have chosen another answer however, because it seemed to distinguish the two different cases of "by 2020". Apparently the first two example sentences seem to translate differently into German, which was unintentional. The first seemed to indicate that in 2020, there will suddenly be a shortage, whereas the second seemed to indicate that the elimination of landfills has started, and in 2020 there will be none left. – imagentab Aug 5 '17 at 9:45
0

By 2020, there will be a shortage of toilets in Germany.

Ab 2020 wird es zu wenige Toiletten in Deutschland geben

-1

Germany plans to eliminate all landfills ab 2020

Please note: It also seemed that "bis 2020" could also mean "until 2020" bis 2020 = until 2020 thats right

For example, I am looking for:

All cars will be banned by 2020 = ab 2020, you dont say bei 2020 in German to an Year

Instead of:

All cars will be banned until 2020 = bis 2200 you can say it that Way Bis 2020 werden alle Autos verboten sein

  • Sorry, it has to say 2020 Not 2200 :) – user29249 Aug 5 '17 at 9:02
  • You can simply edit your post to correct it. – tofro Aug 5 '17 at 9:05
  • »Germany plans to eliminate all landfills ab 2020« is neither an English nor a German sentence. It is a mixture of both, that is wrong in any of both languages. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 5 '17 at 9:11

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