in time / on time

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vil

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Dear teachers,

I know that you distinguish between "in time" and "on time".
I know that "in time" indicates that someone will do something before a given time in the future.
I know also that "on time" indicates that someone will do something t a given time in the future.

Would you be kind enough to make for me a more profound analysis or to recommend a link in order to have the chance to acquire thorough knowledge straight from the horse's mouth.

Thank you in advance for your efforts.

Regards.

V.
 

Horsa

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English Teacher
You have stated the difference very clearly but here is a pair of contrasting sentences anyway.

I was expected to arrive at 3 pm. I was neither late nor early I arrived at exactly 3pm.
- I arrived on time for the meeting.

I was expected to arrive at 3 pm. I arrived at 2.55 pm. I was not late.
- I arrived in time for the meeting.

'in time' is often used when you thought you were going to be late for something but arrived on time.

If you want to say that you arrived much earlier than needed, in British English you could add the words 'plenty of'.
- I arrived in plenty of time.
 

vil

Key Member
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Sep 13, 2007
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Student or Learner
Native Language
Bulgarian
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Bulgaria
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Bulgaria
Hi Horsa,

Thank you very much for your useful information as well as for the picturesque
examples.

There are a little more details concerning this theme.

in time

1. before a time limit expires, early enough, as in:

His speech begins at eight, so we've arrived in time.

Please come in time for dinner.

2. eventually, within an indefinite period , as in:

In time you'll see that Dad was right.

There are some synonyms: in due course of time
in due time
all in good time

after an appropriate interval, in a reasonable length of time

In due course we'll discuss the details of the arrangement.

In due time the defense will present new evidence. or

You will learn the program in time. or

We'll come up with a solution all in good time.

3. in the proper musical tempo or rhythm, as in

It's important to dance in time to the music.

The dancer moved in time with the music.

on time

1. punctually according to the schedule or without delay

I hope the plan will be on time.

2. by paying in installments; a credit

They are buying their car on time.

The "time" here refers to the designated period in which payment should be made.

And again there are a little more words in this connection:

If you arrive punctually, you arrive at the right time, neither late nor early - you arrive on time. Punctually is normally used with the verb arrive, but promptly, which means without delay, is used with other verbs (see below and note the position of promptly in these sentences. In time has a slightly different meaning from on time. If you do something in time, you do it with time to spare - before the last moment. Compare the following:

  • He sat down to watch the television programme and promptly fell asleep.
  • He sat down to watch the television programme and fell asleep straightaway.
  • I received his letter a week ago and I replied promptly to it.
  • I received his letter a week ago and I replied to it immediately.
  • He was saved from falling overboard by the prompt action of the skipper.
  • My guest arrived punctually at seven o' clock, as I expected. He's always very punctual.
  • The train left exactly on time. The show started exactly on time.
  • I didn't get to the house in time. They had already left.
  • We're in plenty of time. We can have a coffee. There's no need to go in now.
Regards.

V.
 
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