ON time or IN time? – Learn FAST (2021)

Prepositions are difficult to learn in your second language, but they are important. More than one of my students has asked the question: “How do you use in and on for time?” They often ask how to use the common expressions IN time and ON time. Here is a quick answer:

ON time = not late
“The 10:35 train was ON time.” = It left at 10:35, it left the station at its planned time.

IN time = soon enough
“My train is late, I hope I am home IN time for dinner.” = Soon enough for dinner.

How do you use IN and ON for time?

On time

ON time = not late
If something happens ON time, it happens at the time which was planned.

Examples:

“The 10:35 train was ON time.” = The train left at 10:35, it left the station at its planned time.

“Let’s meet at the restaurant at 6:30 tomorrow. Please be ON time because we have a reservation.” = Please don’t be late.

The opposite of “ON time” is “late.”

“The 9:20 bus is late today. Probably because of the bad weather.”

Probably is an Adverb of Probability -LEARN MORE!

IN time or ON time

In time

IN time = soon enough
We say someone is IN time for something, or IN time to do something.

Examples:

“My train is late, I hope I am home IN time for dinner.” = Soon enough for dinner.

“I sent my sister a birthday gift. I hope it arrives IN time.” = For her birthday.

“I hope I get home IN time to watch the baseball game.” Soon enough to watch the game.

The opposite of “IN time” is “too late.”

“I wanted to get concert tickets for Saturday but when I got to the stadium too late. The tickets were sold out.”

IN time or ON time

On time details & examples

ARRIVE ON time
ON TIME is often used with the verb ARRIVE

arrive – to get to a place, especially at the end of a journey

“Everyone arrived on time to the meeting. The boss was very happy.”

BE on time
ON TIME is also used after the verb TO BE

“The meeting started at 3:00 as scheduled. Everyone was on time for a change.”

Right on time
Someone or something can BE RIGHT ON TIME – Arriving exactly at the planned or scheduled time. 

“My train is here, right on time.”

A: Sorry for the delay, traffic was terrible today.
B: Don’t worry, you’re right on time.

In time details & examples

Just in time
IN TIME is often used with the adverb JUST
Just in time = at the last possible time.

“Curtis got to the meeting just in time. The boss was about to start when he arrived.”

In the nick of time
Another expression with a similar meaning is IN THE NICK OF TIME
In the nick of time = At the last possible moment before a deadline or before something begins or ends

“I got a new apartment close to my job and close to the train station. I found it in the nick of time, my current apartment lease ends in two weeks.”

IN time and ON time – In the NEWS

Lifeguard shortage means Hellertown pool won’t open on time

LA to reopen nearly 30 pools – just in time for heat wave

Improve your English writing. Try it FREE today!

Check out my latest posts below

  • Quickly Learn vocabulary – Root words with prefixes and suffixes (Video+PDF)
    Increase your English vocabulary with this simple technique. I use this technique with my private students here in Japan. Increase English vocabulary with Prefixes and Suffixes In this post you will learn an easy way to increase your English vocabulary. We will add prefixes and suffixes to words we may already know to make new …
  • Use Olympic vocabulary correctly – Qualify/Qualified
    The 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics began on July 23rd, 2021. The Olympics are one year behind schedule due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. They are still called the 2020 Olympic games even though it is now 2021. One of my students talked to me about the Olympics today. Two Japanese athletes were expected to …
  • How to use English Adjectives – Fact or Opinion? (PDF + video)
    English Adjectives Fact or Opinion In English, we use adjectives to describe nouns. The adjective we use can be a FACT (red) or an OPINION (beautiful). A fact is – a thing that is known to be true, especially when it can be proved An opinion is – your feelings or thoughts about somebody/something, rather …
  • Each or Every – Choose correctly every time (2021)
    My students often wonder – Should I use Each or Every? It’s a great question! I did some research and made this lesson to answer that question. Learn the grammar with lots of natural examples that you can use right away. Use the video at the end of this post to review the grammar and …
  • Advanced news story – Improve your vocabulary
    Improve your vocabulary with an advanced news story This is a blog post that I wrote in 2014 with vocabulary for advanced English students. The story is old but the vocabulary is still useful! Enjoy this advanced English vocabulary story. Samsung unveils new smartwatch Samsung has entered the newly emerging smartwatch market by unveiling its …

Comments 1

  1. Pingback: English Preposition Collection - 11 posts (+ 4 quizzes!) - World English Blog

Leave a Reply