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Time expressions

Tim and Alice looking over Helen's shoulder as she sits at her laptop


There are a great variety of expressions that are used to refer to time: a selection is presented here. Most of them function as adverbials or prepositional phrases.

For more information about 'adverbials', go to Grammar and Vocabulary: Learn It

For more information about prepositions of time, go to: The Flatmates: Episode 44

Referring to the past

a short time ago:
this means something was recent.
I've already heard the news. She told me a short time ago.

the other day:
this means that something was recent, without saying exactly which day.
I went shopping the other day.

ages and ages ago:
this means something was not recent; it happened a long time ago.
I've known about it for a very long time. She told me ages and ages ago.

many moons ago :
this means something was not recent; it happened a long time ago.
Many moons ago, he told me the story of his life.

Referring to the present

for the time being: at the moment, until something changes.
For the time being, I'm catching the bus to work, but I hope to get a bicycle soon.

these days: the current period of time. NOTE: we don't usually say 'in these days'.
These days I'm happy at work, but there were times in the past when I was unhappy.

in this day and age:
the present era; the current period of time in history.
In this day and age it is normal for women to be senior managers, but it wasn't always like that.

Very soon or immediately

as soon as possible:
this is often a polite way to ask someone to do something soon.
Could you please return the books to me as soon as possible?

straight away: immediately.
Let's call him straight away.

in a minute or two / in a second or two:
shortly; very soon. It is common to be a little vague when talking about time, so we use 'or two'.
Sorry to keep you waiting. I'll be with you in a minute or two.

Referring to the future

by the end of the month:
something will happen before this current month finishes.
The new restaurant will be open by the end of the month.

this time next year:
about one year from now.
This time next year, we'll be millionaires!

in the not too distant future:
fairly soon.
I'll be seeing my sister in the not too distant future.

Duration (a length of time)

Not much longer / not any more / not any longer:
these all mean that a period of time for something needs to end soon.
I can't wait any longer, I'll have to leave in a minute or two.

For the foreseeable future:
a period of time from now into the future, a future that is near enough to be reasonably sure what will happen.
I'm going to continue working here for the foreseeable future. I have no plans to change my career and my school is happy with my work.

For as long as anyone can remember:
this means that no-one can remember a time when this thing did not exist or happen. This expression is not always used literally: it simply means a period of time that started a long time ago.
For as long as anyone can remember, fish and chips has been the national food of Britain.


fair enough
ok, fine, no problem

nervous, worried, uncomfortable

a person who works with you, or at the same place as you

short for 'advertisement'
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