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‘In time’ versus ‘on time’

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Oct 16

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For our grammar lesson today, we’re looking at the phrases ‘in time’ and ‘on time’. Let’s note from the onset that although these phrases are sometimes used interchangeably, they mean different things as far as time is concerned.

Let’s look at the first one;

In time

This means to be early enough or sufficiently early. Assuming you have an interview at 11: 00   a. m. and you arrive at the venue at 10: 30 a. m., you can say, ‘I arrived in time for the interview’.

This means you arrived before the scheduled time for the commencement of the interview.

Although we can’t be exact on what time can pass for ‘in time’, between 10 and 30 minutes before a scheduled time is good enough.

On time

You are neither late nor early when you’re ‘on time’. ‘On time’ tells how punctual an individual is; always right on the scheduled time. Therefore, if you arrive at the interview venue at exactly 11: 00 a. m., then you’re ‘on time’.

What of a minute past the scheduled time?

It may seem too much of an exaggeration to say, but a minute past a scheduled time is lateness. You’ll consequently be considered a latecomer, just like the fellow who will arrive 20 minutes after you, if you get to the interview venue at 11: 01 a. m.


Always try to be ‘in time’ and not ‘on time’; you may never know when the clock will tick a minute after the appointed time (on time). However, rather be ‘on time’ than be late. The consequences could be dire.

Posted by : Sharmila Gautama

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