Ask Your Question

Revision history [back]

click to hide/show revision 1
initial version

If you search the Corpus of Contemporary American English for these two expressions, you will see that minute by minute can be used as an adverb:

  • cover these campaigns minute by minute
  • planned out minute by minute

...as well as an adjective:

  • a minute by minute narrative of the events
  • a minute by minute account of his last critical hours

In both cases, minute by minute describes the pacing of some kind of progress (usually a flow of information).

Minute after minute is substantially less frequent, and its usage is slightly different. It can also be used as an adverb:

  • listened to this guy minute after minute
  • stood there dazed minute after minute

But it also has two uses where it functions as a noun:

  • In the construction "minute after minute of _"

    • recounting minute after minute of what he remembered
    • put minute after minute of science information on the screen
  • In the construction "for minute after minute"

    • bounded ahead for minute after minute
    • fired and reloaded, often for minute after minute

As you can probably gather from these examples, the emphasis here is not on the pace but rather the duration: minute after minute emphasizes how something continues without stopping.