«Punctuality is the art of guessing how late the other fellow is going to be», which can be translated as: «Punctuality — a skillful ability to guess how many others will be late.» And really, the concept of punctuality is not universal, for different people, countries, continents. But despite the differences in culture, which we have repeatedly written on our site, as for the British, and the Americans time and punctuality are extremely important. Perhaps for this reason, their life style seems mad rush, an attempt to catch as much as possible. And since time is so important for these countries, it is not surprising that this phenomenon does not forget about yourself in the language, enriching it with a variety of fixed expressions and phrases. Consider some of them.
Talking about how time passes, we can use the following phrases:
- Time goes by / passes — time passes.
- Time flies — time flies.
- Time drags — time stretches.
Their friendship got better as time went by. — Their friendship became better with time.
You’re so big now! How quickly time flies! — You’re already so big! How quickly time flies!
Time drags in this job. — At the time of this work is so slow stretches.
By asking a passerby with a clock of the time, we are likely to say:
What time do you make it? (BrE) / What time do you have? (AmE)
Have you got the time? (BrE) / Do you have the time? (AmE)
And by the way, do not confuse these terms with a combination tell the time (BrE) / tell time (AmE), as demand someone «Can you tell the time?», You just are curious, can a person call time on the clock .
Let us now consider some of the stable expression of short time:
- It’s (high / about) time somebody did something — this expression should be very careful, because it requires the use of a particular grammar (note the verb form of expression after it’s time). It should also be remembered that the expression it’s high / about time are more colloquial variants.
It’s (high) time I started doing my project. — Time for me I have to start work on the project.
- Not the time / hardly the time — not the time.
It’s not the time to ask him about the favour. — Now is not the time to ask him for a favor.
- There’s no time like the present — now is the right time (is used when you do not want anything to delay, and prefer to solve the problem immediately).
When do you want to call her? Well, there’s no time like the present. — When you think you call her? — I think now is the right time.
- To have all the time in the world — have a lot of time.
We do not have to rush, we have all the time in the world. — We do not need to hurry, we have plenty of time.
- To have no / little time to spare — no free time.
Marry had no time to spare for cooking. — Mary did not have time to cook.
- With time to spare — earlier than expected.
We will arrive in London with time to spare. — We will arrive in London earlier than expected.
- You have time on your hands — have a lot of free time (usually when you do not know what it take).
Now that she started to live alone, she has too much time on her hands. — Now that she lives alone, she does not know what to do.
- Half the time — an expression used when we want to say that something is happening quite often, especially something unpleasant.
Half the time you do not even notice what I’m wearing. — You almost never even notice what I’m wearing.
- At all times — always; most often this expression can be found in more formal contexts (rules, applications, and so on. d.).
Children must be supervised at all times while in the park. — While in the park, children must be under constant supervision.
- To take your time — do not rush.
The hairdresser took her time cutting my hair and did it well. — Barber sheared me slowly, got a haircut and wonderful.
- (Right / bang / dead) on time — on time.
The bus arrived right on time. — The bus arrived just in time.
- Ahead of time — earlier than planned.
The plane arrived 30 minutes ahead of time. — The plane arrived 30 minutes early.
- Behind time — later than planned.
The plane arrived 30 minutes behind time. — The plane arrived 30 minutes later.
- In no time / in next to no time — very soon.
Do not worry, I’ll be back in next to no time. — Do not worry, I instantly.
- To make good time — to quickly get anywhere.
We made good time and were at home by lunchtime. — We arrived fairly quickly and were home by lunchtime.
- To race / work / battle against time — to try to meet the deadline, but you have very little time for this.
Max was racing against time to complete the project by Friday. — Max struggled to meet deadlines and to complete the project by Friday.
- To kill time — take the time while you wait for anything.
We have one hour left before the meeting and we need to kill some time. — We still have an hour before the meeting, you need something to occupy time.
And, of course, we can not do without, perhaps, the most famous expressions:
- Time is a great healer / heals all wounds — time heals all.
- All in good time — all the time.
- Time is money — Time is money.
Of course, this is not a complete list of expressions of the time, I only allowed myself to choose, in my opinion, the most common. As you can see, we talk about «time» in the English language takes a lot of time (takes time)! And in order to fill up our vocabulary more and maybe learn something new, take a look the next great video from the BBC about how residents perceive time in different countries «Culture Shock: Punctuality»:
I guess we all believe that time is pretty constant. But around the world attitudes to it differ greatly. While you can set your watch by Swiss trains, Northern cultures break the day down into minutes and seconds. For other cultures punctuality is a very different matter.
A German sales executive trying to open doors in a number of African countries, scheduled two meetings a day, for him — quite easy going. His first meeting did not even take place till a day later. By the end of his trip he was so stressed out, he could hardly operate. He mistakenly thought his hosts would look at the time like he did.
In Africa like in the Middle East or South America there they work in blocks of time, half a day maybe, certainly not the minutes. As long as they can achieve what they need in that block of time, then exactly when is less important. That’s not to say that they are less efficient or effective, it’s just that they work at their own pace. If you work in seconds, then you need to adapt, otherwise you’re gonna to set yourself up for a lot of resistance from your hosts, and you’re gonna get constant disappointment.
And then there are cultural anomalies. In French society absolute punctuality is not the highest priority, but if you arrive late to the French restaurant, do not expect a warm welcome. The French take their food very seriously and consider lateness a sign of disrespect for their caring efforts. You’d better pay some serious compliments to the waiters if you want to get back into their good books.
The American expression «time is money» can be taken very literary in the US. A chatty bank teller whose lines are moving slowly will cause customers to become impatient. And you also get on your full if the line has to wait because you have not filled up your forms ahead of time.
The Subcontinent. Time can seem pretty cheap here. Everything else may be late, but as a visitor your punctuality is expected. Patience is key. As with much of Asia, if you try to rush things you risk offending your hosts. They’re in control, they must not be seen to lose face through your impatience. But the ironic thing is, when you need something in a hurry it can happen, like a new suit. A guy I know who was visiting India and he’d heard of the amazing speed and skill of the Mumbai tailors. His beautiful silk suit had received a gap in buttonhole and he had to be at a reception the following afternoon, so he went to the local tailor and asked for an exact copy, the following morning he went back for it and sure enough it was ready for him, exactly as he ordered it, right down to the buttonhole.
So just because the culture does not measure itself in seconds does not mean they’re inefficient. The next time you’re in Switzerland see how long it takes you to have a new suit made, unless of course you can find an Indian tailor.
- To set watch — to set the time on the clock.
- To break the day down into — day break … (hours, minutes, seconds, and so on. D.).
- A very different matter — is another matter.
- To open doors — to do something that will help build rapport, will provide an opportunity for development.
- To schedule a meeting — assign, I schedule an appointment.
- To be stressed out — be tired, the nerves.
- That’s not to say that — it does not mean that …
- Efficient (inefficient) — productive.
- To work at your own pace — to work at their own pace.
- To set yourself up for something — expose themselves to anything.
- Resistance — resistance.
- To be the highest priority — to be extremely important.
- A warm welcome — hospitality.
- To take something seriously — seriously to something.
- To pay a compliment — a compliment.
- To be in someone’s good (bad) books — have a good (bad) account.
- To take literary — taken literally.
- Chatty bank teller — chatty bank teller.
- A line — turn.
- To fill up the form — fill in the form.
- To lose face — to lose face.
And now I suggest you do a small test to check what words and phrases in this article you will remember: