Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about the differences between "in time" and "on time." Let's begin.
Let's begin with "in time," the expression "in time." We use this expression to refer to activities with deadlines or limited time periods for completion. Let's take a look at some examples so we can see how to use this phrase. First, "He made it to the station in time for his train." "Made it" means was able to arrive. He was able to arrive to the station. "He made it to the station in time for his train." This use of "in time" before the noun phrase, "his train," shows us that "he," in this situation, was able to arrive at the station before the deadline for his train. His train has a specific time. There's a specific time period in which he is able to catch a train, is able to catch his train, rather. Using "in time" shows us that he was able to do that and we have a positive sentence here. He made it to his train. He was able to catch his train.
Let's look at another expression, or another example of this expression. "I finished work in time to watch the soccer game." I finished work in time to watch the soccer game. Here, "in time" comes before this verb phrase, "to watch the soccer game." This means, I finished work with enough time to watch the soccer game. The soccer game, there's a fixed amount of time, a limited time period that I can watch the soccer game. I finished work at a point in time that allowed me to watch the soccer game. I finished work and there was still time remaining to watch the soccer game. We use "in time" to show that I was still able to do that thing. Here, it's with a verb phrase.
Let's continue to the next example sentence. This one is a negative. "She didn't arrive at the examination center in time to take the test." "In time to take the test." Here, we see it's another verb phrase, "in time to take the test." In time to do this action. This is the action here. As we've seen, in each of these example sentences, the item, the noun phrase, or the verb, the activity, comes after the "in time" expression. In this case, "in time to take the test," remember I pointed out this is a negative. "She didn't arrive at the examination center in time to take the test" means she didn't arrive at the center with enough time to take the test. There was a deadline to take the test. There was some limited period of time within which she needed to arrive in order to complete this action. However, she did not arrive in time. She did not arrive within that limited time period or before that deadline. Therefore, she did not take the test.
Let's continue to another negative example of this. "They didn't get to the concert hall in time for the show." Again, here, after "in time," we see "for the show." In this case, it's a noun phrase. We see, this is the thing that was not able to happen. We know that it was not able to happen because of this negative, "they didn't get." "Get" means arrive or come to. "They didn't get to the concert hall in time for," meaning they weren't able to arrive before the show began or in the limited period that the show was happening. They didn't arrive in time to do that. We use "in time" to show these sorts of deadlines or that we weren't able to do something within the limited time period that we have to complete that activity. We can also use this expression in questions. For example, "Are you going to get to the office in time for your meeting?" Here, we see "get" again, which means arrive or come to. "Are you going to get to the office in time for your meeting?" This is a question that's asking are you going to arrive at the office with enough time to join this meeting. That means a meeting is scheduled. There's some plan, and the speaker is asking the listener if the listener is going to arrive with enough time, or within this limited time period to participate in this activity. We can use this in questions as well.
I pointed out throughout the example sentences, too, these noun phrases and verb phrases that we see after "in time." You'll notice, when we use "in time for," we followed "for" with our noun phrase. We saw 'in time for his train," or, "in time for the show," "in time for your meeting." These are all noun phrases. When we want to talk about a verb, however, like an action, doing some action, we use "to" with our verb phrase, and the verb is in the infinitive form. We saw here, "time to watch the soccer game." Here's my verb in the infinitive form, "in time to watch the soccer game." Here, "in time to take the test." The infinitive form of the verb is there. When you use "in time," please make sure to think about these two points: is it a noun phrase, is it a verb phrase you're talking about?
Okay. With this in mind, let's continue to the second part of this lesson, "on time." On time. "On time," the meaning here is it refers to activities that happen at the appointed ("appointed" means scheduled time). "On time," therefore, implies, or we know when we hear "on time," that in the past, a schedule was set. We decided on something. For example, transportations or meeting schedules, class schedules. Those kinds of timetables are very commonly used with "on time." "On time" refers to something happening at a scheduled time. "In time" refers to activities with deadlines or there's a limited time period to complete it.
Let's look at some examples of how we can use "on time," then. First, "She arrived at the office on time." Here, what was the action? The action was this: "arrived." She arrived, past tense. She arrived at the office on time. This shows us she arrived at the office at the scheduled time, or as scheduled. This is another way to say it. She arrived at the office as scheduled. She arrived at the office at the scheduled time.
Let's look at one more. "We finished work on time today." "We finished work at the scheduled time today," is another way to say this. We finished work on time today. Not, "We finished work in time today." I'll come back to a point like that in just a moment, but "on time" shows it was scheduled.
Another example. This one a negative. "The game didn't start on time." "The game didn't start on time" shows us the game was probably late. The game didn't start on time. The game was supposed to, or the game was scheduled to start at 3 p.m., for example, but the game started at 3:30, for example. In that case, we could say, "The game didn't start on time," a negative.
Let's look at another negative. "I didn't turn in my homework on time." I didn't turn in my homework on time. Here, "I did not turn in my homework," but this shows "on time." This shows us the action was completed. It was just late. "I didn't turn in my homework on time at the scheduled time," in other words. The homework was due at 10 o'clock, I turned in the homework at 10:30 or 11:00, for example. This sentence, "I didn't turn in my homework," means the action just did not happen. "I didn't turn in my homework on time" means the action happened late.
Okay. Let's take a look at a couple other expressions. One, "He's on time for his 3:00 p.m. meeting." He's on time for his 3:00 p.m. meeting. This is something you might hear, for example, a secretary or an assistant, or just someone else reporting the activities of another person. "He's on time for his 3:00 p.m. meeting." This is a sentence that means the person here, he or she, this person, their activities throughout the day today have led them to be in a position of being on time in the future. Now, that's a very strange way to say this, I know. It means that person has been doing many things all day long, and so now, they know that they have this 3:00 p.m. meeting, but they've been doing all these other things and now they're still okay. They're still okay to attend this meeting at 3:00 p.m. That's what this implies. He's on time for a 3:00 p.m. meeting. This is typically something that's used for busy people, to describe busy people's schedules. "He's on time for this." "She's on time for that." You might hear it used for a president or a prime minister, someone that has a very, very hectic or crazy schedule. You might hear people reporting about that person's schedule and that person's upcoming activities with something like this.
Okay. We can use this in a question, as we saw with "in time." For example, "Is the conference going to finish on time?" "Is the conference going to finish on time" means is the conference going to finish as scheduled, at the scheduled time. You can see, we use "on time" to refer to scheduled, like asking questions and making statements about scheduled things. We use "in time" to refer to deadlines for completion of an action.
I mentioned one point, though. I think, I talked about it here, "We finished work on time today." I mentioned this is one situation where I might see some mistakes from students. We finished work in time today. We could say this, "We finished work in time today. We finished work in time today for something else." When you're using "in time," you need to explain the activity, the thing that you were able to do or not able to do when you're using "in time." When you're using "on time," you're referring to some past scheduled action, so you don't always need to explain the specific thing that you're talking about. For example, "She arrived at the office on time." There was some schedule, or, every day she starts work at 9:00 a.m., for example. That's on time.
When you're talking about "in time," it may be a good idea to include it in your sentence here, as I've done. Occasionally, in conversation, when the activity is obvious, native speakers will drop that from "in time." But, you don't always need to include it with "on time." It might be a good idea to include the activity with "in time," however.
This is a quick introduction to some differences between "in time" and "on time," and some sample sentences. Of course, if you have any questions or comments, or if you want to practice making sentences with one of these two points, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye.

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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Sunday at 10:05 AM
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Hi Imad and Nedra,


Thank you for posting. If you ever have any questions, please let us know. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Kind regards,

Levente

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Nedra
Friday at 10:40 PM
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Thank you for your explain

imad daboul
Wednesday at 09:27 PM
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๐Ÿ‘ I am new here but I like your style and your accent is very clear

thank you Alisha

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Wednesday at 04:43 PM
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Hello Pablo and Mina,


Thank you both for joining us!


We have so many lessons and a lot of support for you here during your studies and are constantly updating the lessons on our site so please stay tuned!๐Ÿ‘


Feel free to ask us any questions that come up.


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Mina
Wednesday at 01:36 PM
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Excellent work done by Alisha

Pablo Josรฉ Morales
Wednesday at 12:58 AM
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It was a great explanation!! Iยดm sure Iยดll remember for next conversations!

"In Time": Activities with a dead line.

Thanks a lot!