In Time or On Time - Confusing Phrases in English - Speak English Accurately

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In this lesson, we will learn how to use ‘in time’ and ‘on time’.


Max: Hello, everybody! Many people get confused about when they should use ‘in time’ and ‘on time’.

Kevin: That’s right, Max. But not anymore. Today, we’ll see examples of how to use them correctly.

Max: Yes! But first, a little explanation about their functions.

Kevin: Ok. We use ‘in time’ when we want to say that you arrive at the right moment to do something.

Max: It means that you are not too late to do something.

Kevin: Right.

Max: For example, yesterday I went to the movies with my girlfriend. The movie started at 4pm. We arrived a little late and missed the previews, but we were in time to watch the beginning of the movie.

Kevin: Here’s another example: Clair went to France, but I arrived at the airport in time to say goodbye.

Max: That means she was still there when you got there.

Kevin: Yep. And we use ‘on time’ to explain that you are not early or late. For example, I’m never late for work or class, I am always on time.

Max: Great example, let’s listen to some dialogues now.

Getting to Class.

Ron: Excuse me, Ms. Carter, may I come in?

Frances: Good morning, Ron. You are late again! Why can’t you arrive on time to class?

Ron: I’m sorry, but I depend on my father to bring me to school, and he is always late.

Frances: Well, Ron, tell your father that if you are not on time for the next class, I will have to call him to school and have a serious conversation with him.

Ron: Yes, Ms. Carter.

Going to a Dinner Party.

Max: Hey, Kev. What’s up?

Kevin: Hey, Max! Why didn’t you go to Sarah’s dinner party?

Max: I had to work until late…

Kevin: You missed it, man.

Max: What time did it start?

Kevin: Well, it started at 7pm, but I got there at 8:30.

Max: Oh, no! So, you missed dinner.

Kevin: Not really…I was late for the party, but I was in time for the dinner, because they only served it at 9pm.

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