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In Recent Years vs In The Recent Years – Easy Usage Guide (+11

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The differences between the phrases “in recent years” and “in the recent years” are important. You should know how to use them and which one is the better phrase (as well as what some better alternatives might be). In this article, we’ll talk you through how to use them.

Should You Use “In Recent Years” Or “In The Recent Years”?

The correct spelling is “in recent years,” though both forms are correct. “In the recent years” is rarely used. The article “the” is seen as a redundancy and many native speakers think it looks clunky. It’s best to stick to the streamline “in recent years.

Should You Use "In Recent Years" Or "In The Recent Years"?

Whenever we want to talk about how things might have developed in the past, we might be inclined to try using the phrase “in recent years.” It’s a good phrase that works well to convey the meaning, though it’s not always the most popular choice.

Later in the article, we’ll talk about what some better choices might be. However, it’s also quite good to remember that “in recent years” is always more common than “in the recent years” (which is rarely, if ever, used in English).

Is “In Recent Years” Or “In The Recent Years” Used The Most?

Let’s go over the usage of the two phrases to help you understand what we were saying in the section before.

As you can see from this graph, “in recent years” is the most popular choice. In fact, in the last 200 years, it’s the only choice of the two that’s managed to come off the baseline.

Is "In Recent Years" Or "In The Recent Years" Used The Most?

This large difference in use shows you just how important it is to use “in recent years” as the correct saying. Very few native speakers use “in the recent years.” While we typically specify our nouns with articles like “the,” in this case, it’s irrelevant.

There’s no difference between saying the following:

  • In recent years (in the years that came a short while ago)
  • In the recent years (in the years that came a short while ago)

We can’t get any more specific than that, which is why “the” is considered a redundancy and often left out.

Does The Same Rule Apply To “Over Recent Years” And “Over The Recent Years”?

There is another group of sayings, which are “over recent years” and “over the recent years.” They use a different preposition, but the idea is still the same. Let’s see whether the same rule applies here.

According to this graph, “over recent years” is still the most popular choice. However, “over the recent years” is still used much more often than “in the recent years” was previously.

"Over Recent Years" And "Over The Recent Years" historical development

From this, we can see that the same rule doesn’t apply in the same way. English speakers are more comfortable using the phrase “over the recent years” compared to “in the recent years.”

Of course, this isn’t always the case since “over recent years” is still widely considered the more popular of the two choices. Still, it’s interesting to see this graph not following the same rules, even though they both have the same base words and only the preposition is different.

Is It “In Recent Years” Or “For Recent Years”?

Whenever we want to use the saying, it’s important we know which preposition we use. There are a couple of options, but each one comes with a different group of rules that must be abided by.

“In recent years” is the correct form and the only one that should be used of the two. “For recent years” uses the wrong adjective (“recent”) with the preposition “for.”

If we want to use “for” correctly in this sense, then we’ll want to use one of the following:

  • For years
  • For the last few years

We can’t use the adjective “recent” with “for” because the two words don’t work together. However, we can be more general, like in the first example. We can also get more specific but instead describe the years by their relative quantity (“the last few”) rather than a general quantity (“recent”).

What Does “Recent” Mean?

While all of these explanations are great to help you learn all about the phrases, they won’t be much good if you don’t know what the words mean. Of course, “recent” is the biggest factor in this phrase, so that’s the one we’re going to pay attention to.

According to The Cambridge Dictionary, “recent” means “happening or starting from a short time ago.”

That means whenever we talk about the word “recent,” we’re referring to something that’s happened in the past, though not all that far away. Generally, we’ll talk about things that have only happened in the last few years.

“In recent years” means that we’re talking about the few years that come before the current one. Of course, this value is relative, as “few” could mean five to ten if we’re talking about someone’s lifetime, but it could mean one thousand or more if we’re talking about the development of history.

It’s important to remember that “recent” is a general quantifiable term. We must always keep it relative with whatever we’re talking about.

  • Is this a recent photo? (This means the photo could be within the last few days, but it could also mean the last few years, depending on the context).
  • In recent years, things have gone wrong. (This means we could be talking about the last few years of our life or the last hundred years of the earth’s life with all the problems that occurred in it. Context is important for relative quantities).

Examples Of How To Use “In Recent Years” Or “In The Recent Years”

Let’s go through some examples to see how using “in recent years” or “in the recent years” works in a sentence. Since “in recent years” is more common, we’ll stick mostly to that.

  1. In recent years, it’s been harder to buy a home.
  2. In recent years, inflation rates have increased dramatically.
  3. In recent years, my hair has greyed, and my eyes have sunk.
  4. It’s been difficult to deal with the increasing pressure in recent years.
  5. In recent years, the world has been a dangerous place.
  6. In recent years, a lot of new technology has come out.
  7. We’ve been able to explore more to do with space in recent years.
  8. There’s a lot that’s been kept under wraps in recent years.
  9. In the recent years, people have always stayed close to their families.
  10. In the recent years, mankind has made many mistakes.
  11. In recent years, you can’t go far without some kind of political agenda being plastered over a wall.

In Recent Years – Synonyms

It’s time to look over some synonyms and alternatives to “in recent years” as a phrase. You’ll want to learn most of these to use in place of the saying because a lot of native speakers stay away from using “in recent years.”

  • Recently

This is the easiest synonym and alternative for the word. It removes the need to use “in” and “years” in the sentence. By simply saying “recently,” we’re still talking about the years that came a short while ago, but we’re using it in a much better way.

  • Over the last few years

Generally, “recent” is an outdated saying that many native speakers steer clear of using. For this reason, we have phrases like “over the last few years.” The meaning is identical; we’re just using a slightly different combination of words to get there.

  • As of late

This is a good alternative that works in formal situations. You can specify that you’re talking about years later in the written piece, but “as of late” is a good way to say “recently” or “in recent years” in a more formal situation.

Which Other Prepositions Can Be Used Before “Recent Years”?

There are a few other prepositions that can go before recent years, and they are as follows:

Through Recent Years

“Through recent years” means you’re talking about things that happened during the last few years.

Over Recent Years

“Over recent years” means you’re talking about things that happened over the course of the years you’re mentioning.

With Recent Years

“With recent years” means you’re talking about the changes that have come about from previous years.

Which Tense Is Used With “Recent Years”?

When we’re talking about “recent years,” we’re always writing in the past tense. This is because we’re talking about things that have happened a short while ago rather than anything that’s happened in the present.

Is “For The Last Ten Years” Or “In The Recent Ten Years” Most Appropriate?

If you want to be more specific about the number of years you’re talking about, it’s good to know which phrase is best to use.

“For the last ten years” is most appropriate, and “in the recent ten years” is wrong. “For” is the preposition we use when we want to be more specific and actually number the years (or other things) we’re talking about.

There are no cases where “in the recent ten years” is correct to write. You’ll want to make sure you stick to writing “for the last ten years” to talk about the specific number of years.

You might also like: “In The Last Year” vs. “Last Year” vs. “In The Past Year” (+Preposition Guide)

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