Learn 7 Time Expressions in English


I'm Gill at www.engvid.com and today's lesson is on seven time expressions, okay?

Seven different ways of using the word "time" with slightly different meanings, okay?

So, let's have a look.

So, the first one is "on time".

If you're on time, that means you're exactly on - arriving at the time agreed.

If you're coming for an 11:00 meeting, you arrive at 11:00.

It's what we call "on the dot".

On the dot, meaning the dot on the clock.

So, you can say, "The train left on time", on the timetable for the train, the train

is supposed to leave at 12:00 and it does leave exactly at 12:00.

So, on time is exactly on the dot, okay?

Not before, not after, but exactly on time.



Next one, "in time".

So, just by changing the preposition from "on" to "in", "in time".

So, here's an example sentence: Don't worry, we'll be in time to catch the train.

So, you're going to catch a train.

Somebody is worried you're going to be late, you will miss the train.

But someone else says, "No, it's okay.

I know how long it takes to get to the station.

We will be in time to catch the train."

So, that means you will arrive at the station a number of minutes before the train is due

to leave.

So, comfortably, a number of minutes where you're not having to run because you think

you're going to miss it.

So, we'll be in time, don't worry.


And then, moving on from that one, "in good time" means you have even more time, lots

of time.

So, we arrived in good time for the coach trip.

If you're going on coach trip for the day, a day trip into the countryside or something,

you have to arrive at the departure place by, say, 12:00.

If you arrive at 11:30, that's a whole half hour before the coach leaves.

So, you could say that's in good time.

It means "plenty of time".

Plenty of time.

You can arrive, you have half an hour, you can relax, okay?

So, that's in good time.

And then the other - going back the other way again.

"Just in time".

We caught the train just in time before it left.

So, that's very close to the departure time.

So, the departure time.

The time that it's scheduled to leave.

Just in time.

So maybe the train is due to leave at 12:00 and you got in at one minute to 12:00, so

it's that close.

Just in time.


So, that's like about a minute before.

This one, "only just in time", is even less than that.

So, "We were only just in time to catch the train."

If you're only just in time, maybe it was ten seconds before the train left, or five

seconds, very, very close to leaving.

You know, the guy was blowing the whistle and the doors were slamming or the doors were


Only just in time, it means you nearly missed it, okay?

So, you're probably out of breath and you sit down and you think, "Oh, oh, we made it

only just in time."


And then this one, "in the meantime" is when you have some time to fill in before something

else happens.

So, you've gone to see a film for example, and you're at the cinema.

But the film doesn't start for another hour.

So, "We have an hour before the film starts", so what do you do for an hour?

"So, in the meantime", while we're waiting, in that hour that we have to spare, what shall

we do?

"Shall we go for coffee?"

So, in the meantime is something you do to fill in the time while you're waiting for

something else, okay?

And then finally in this first half of the lesson, "it's about time", or you can make

it a question, "isn't it about time?" is when you think something is overdue.

So, if something is overdue, you've been waiting for something and it hasn't happened and you

think, "Oh, it's about time that happened."

Or, "Isn't it about time that happened?

We've been waiting now, a long time."

So, the sort of thing you might say at work, for example, if you've worked for a company

for ten years and maybe you've never had a pay raise.

That's a bit extreme, ten years without a pay raise, but anyway, this is just an example.

So, you could say, "I think it's about time I got a pay raise."

This is in the past tense.

You wouldn't say, "It's about time I get a pay raise."

It's about time I got a pay rise, because it's a kind of conditional thing.

You haven't got a pay rise, so it's about time I got a pay rise.

It's almost a kind of subjunctive form, okay.

And then you can turn that into - you can add a question about the pay rise and you

think, "Isn't it about time I got a promotion, too?

After ten years?"

So, that's using it as a statement, "I think it's about time I got a pay rise."

And then you can use the question form, "And isn't it about time I got a promotion, too?"


So, that's seven different time expressions.

And in the second half of the lesson, we have a little test where you can fill in the gaps

in some sentences.

Okay, so let's have a look at these sentences, which have gaps for all the time expressions,


So, the first one: To avoid stress, I made sure that I arrived ____ ____ _____ for the


I'll go through them first, then we'll go back over it.

We were ___ ____ ____ ____ for the coach.

The project was completed ___ _______, right on schedule.

Isn't it __ __ something was done about that empty building?

If we don't arrive at the theatre __ ___ for the start, they won't let us in.

My friend will be in two hours, so ___ ___ _____ I'll do some homework - sorry, housework,

not homework.

Do some cleaning around the house, okay?

And finally: We thought we'd be late, but we arrived __ ___ ____ to see the start of

the film.

Okay, so there are seven sentences there and we have seven time expressions to fit in,

one of each.

So, let's have a look.

So, you're going for an interview, which is stressful anyway.

So, to avoid stress, I made sure that I arrived __ ___ _____ for the interview.

So, the idea here is that you have plenty of time, okay?

Not just a minute before the interview begins, but lots, lots of time so that you can relax

a little bit.

So, which one is that?

I made sure that I arrived __ ___ ____.

The number of words, of course, gives you a clue.

So, in - something - time.

So, not just "in time".

You could say that.

I made sure that I arrived in time for the interview, but everybody tries to do that.

If you want a little bit of extra time to be able to sit down and relax, what's the

other word?

In good time.


In good time for the interview.

Plenty of time to spare, okay.

Right, next one: We were - now, we have four words here - for the coach.

So, a coach is setting off on a day trip or something, and this situation, you nearly

missed it.

You nearly missed the coach.

So, another two seconds and the driver would not have seen you and let you onto the coach.

He probably had already closed the doors and then, at the last moment, he saw you and opened

the doors and let you onto the coach.

So, it was very, very close to missing the coach.

So, we were - so, "time" comes here.

Can you remember the other words? "in time", you were in time, we were ___ ___ in time.

So, "only", only just in time.

We were only just in time for the coach.



Next one: The project was completed __ _____, right on schedule.

So, this means the same as "right on schedule", on the dot.

The date it was meant to be completed, that was the date it was completed.

So, it was completed - so, we have "time" here, which is the preposition that you put

with it when it's on the dot?

Well, this gives you a clue.

"On schedule", "on the dot", on time.

Okay, exactly, precisely, Okay, good.

So, then we have a question.

Isn't it __ ___ something was done about that empty building?

There's an empty building.

Maybe it's been empty for ten years or more and it's in bad condition, probably.

It's boarded up, it looks terrible.

You wish somebody would do something about it.

Open it up and use it, renovate it, do something nice with it.

So, you're asking, isn't it __ ___.

So, "time" goes there, and what's the other word that goes with it when you're asking

this question?

Isn't it about time?

Isn't it about time something was - subjunctive - done about that empty building?

It's terrible, the way it's just been left.

Okay, good.

Next one, "If we don't arrive at the theatre __ ____ for the start," the start of the play,

"they won't let us in."

In some theatres, if you're not there, they close the doors.

They don't let you into the performance space, the auditorium, because you will disturb other

people and disturb the performers as well.

So, sometimes they won't let people in if they're late.

So, if we don't arrive at the theatre __ ____, so this would be "time".

So, you have to be there before the start time.

So, what preposition goes here?

If we don't arrive at the theatre in time, in time for the start, they won't let us in.


Right, next one: My friend will be here - you're at home, expecting your friend - my friend

will be here in two hours.

You have two whole hours.

Are you going to just sit there and wait for two hours?

No, so hopefully not, unless you want to meditate.

That's useful, it's always good to use the time somehow in a constructive way, even if

it's meditating.

That's good.

Or sleeping, maybe?

As long as you're using it for something and not just wasting time, okay?

My friend will be here in two hours, so __ __ _____, I'll do some housework.

So, that's a very useful thing to do while you're waiting.

So, what do we put in here?

When you're filling in some time by doing something else while you're waiting, so we

have a word here that ends with "time", but it's a longer word.

Do you remember that one, beginning with "m"?

Meantime, okay.

So, that's "meantime".

So, in the meantime, I'll do some housework.


And then finally, "We thought we'd be late, but we arrived __ __ _____ to see the start

of the film".

So, you thought you were going to be late, but you weren't.

You were very close to being late, though.

So, this is that one where you're very close to being late, but maybe with one minute to

spare, you get into your seats and then the film starts.

So, we arrived ___ ____ time.

That's "in time", what's the word here?

We arrived just in time.


We had "only just in time" there, which is even closer to being late.

This wasn't quite as close to being late.

Just in time to see the start of the film.

Okay, so I hope that was helpful.

So, also, if you would like to go the website www.engvid.com , there is a quiz to test you

a little bit further on this subject.

So, thank you very much for watching and see you again soon.

Bye for now!