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It looks like にわたって has just one meaning, "over (a period of time)" whereas にかけて means "over (a period of time)" and also "until". Is that correct? Can they be used almost interchangeably?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

They are different. You use かけて with an endpoint, and わたって with a span.

20世紀の終わりにかけて ...
今夜にかけて ...

3世紀に渡って ...
3世代に渡って ...

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Excellent answer, short and clear. Thank you @sawa I will find them much easier to memorize now. – edwinbradford Jul 1 '12 at 8:10
    
what about the difference when you're able to include から with にかけて vs わたって – david Oct 2 '14 at 10:02

にかけて は 連続的でなくてもいいです。 例えば、「5時から六時にかけて雨が降った」と言うと、「五時から六時まで雨が降ったけど、一。か時間中、降ってはいなかった」という意味。 一方。「にわたって」の前には範囲を表わす言葉がくる。 例えば、「三時間にかけて」「一世紀にわたって」「数回にわたって」「政治家、一般市民、知識人にわたって」などなど。

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「五時から六時まで雨が降ったけど、一時間中、降ってはいなかった」 – leejaehoon Jan 12 at 1:20

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