What’s the difference? IN TIME vs. ON TIME

Many people confuse these two expressions. And while they are similar, there is a very important difference.

  • ON time – This referrs to when you have an appointment or scheduled time to be somewhere or do something.
    The meeting starts at 2 pm. I have to be on time. (If I’m late something bad will happen.)
    The flight left on time. (It took off at the scheduled time)

TIP: I tell my students to associate the O of ON TIME with the face of a clock to remember that on time has a set time!


  • IN time – This refers to being early ehough to be able to do something or experience something.
    Even though I arrived late for the meeting I was still in time because it hadn’t started.*
    I forgot to set my alarm but luckily I woke up in time to have breakfast.

NOTE: It is possible to be late (not on time) for an appointment and still be in time to participate in the experience.

If you have any questions or doubts, please ask in the comments or send me a private message.

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