Time expressions

We are sure you are familiar with the expression “time is money”, which emphasizes how valuable time is in many ways. Generally, English-speaking people believe time should not be wasted since it can be used for many different purposes, such as making money.

English language possesses countless time-related expressions and idioms. Today we are going to focus on two of them that can somehow be confusing to students, since they are almost identical: on time and in time. However, when we look into them closely, we can easily spot the differences.

On time basically refers to being punctual, that is, something taking place at exactly a specific or planned time. Let’s see a few examples:

  • We arranged the meeting at 9.00 a.m. and everybody arrived on time.
  • The train arrived at Central Station on time, at 12.00 o’clock sharp.
  • If you don’t arrive at school on time, you might not be allowed to attend.

In time, on the other hand,  refers to something that happens or takes place before it is too late, usually with undesirable or disastrous consequences. When we use this expression there are usually deadlines involved. See the examples below:

  • I wasn’t selected for the job interview because I didn’t submit my application in time.
  • Even if I overslept that morning, I managed to catch the train in time.
  • They managed to get in the movie theatre just in time to see the beginning of the film.

Let’s practice now a little bit:

We hope you found this useful. We do not have anything else to add except for: thank you very much for your attention!

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