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This week, we are going to learn about the difference between the phrases ‘in time’ and ‘on time’. Although they may sound similar to you, they both have different meanings. Therefore, it is important for us to understand what they mean and in what situations we use them.

So, what do they mean? ‘on time’ means ‘at the arranged or correct time’, whereas the phrase ‘in time’ means ‘before it’s too late’.

Now, you are probably wondering when to use these phrases, so let’s start with ‘on time’. We generally use ‘on time’ for something that has a fixed time every day, or a plan that we have arranged previously. Things like work schedules, train, bus and plane timetables are the most common uses.

For example, if we have a flight that leaves at 7pm and it leaves at 7pm, we could say that the flight left ‘on time’. This is because it left at the time it was supposed to.

Also, if we start work at 9am everyday and we always arrive there at or before 9am, we could say, ‘I always get to work on time’.

Another way in which we can use this is when we have made a plan with something. For example, if I have planned to meet a friend at 6pm at the restaurant and I know I am going to get to the restaurant at or before 6, I can text my friend and say: ‘I am going to get to the restaurant on time’.

Now, we are going to talk about how we use ‘in time’. This is often used in connection with ‘on time’, but usually, in a situation when we are not going to be ‘on time’ for something. However, we still may be able to get there ‘in time’ for something else.

Now, I am going to give you some examples to make this a little clearer:

For example, if my flight to New York at 1pm was delayed by 3 hours, I could say: ‘My flight to New York didn’t leave on time, but I will still get there in time to go out for dinner’. This means that although my flight to New York was late, I would still get there before the restaurants there closed. Therefore, I would get there before it was too late!

Also, if I was going to a party and knew I was going to be late but still would get there for the arranged dinner, I could say ‘I won´t be on time to your party, but I will still get there in time for dinner’.

Or we can just use it alone without ‘on time’, especially in situations when we are early for a particular event. If I was going to a concert and got there early, I could say ‘We got to the concert in time for a quick drink’. This means that we got there early and had enough time for have a quick drink.

So, now I guess you have a clearer of when we use ‘in time’ and ‘on time’, and should be able to use them in a real life situation!

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J. Crowley