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042:english:phrases An Independent Educational Net Magazine englishtimes.net


TALKING ABOUT TIME front      link      help

We let time play an important part in our lives, and try to use it to organise and control the events that affect us. We remember the past, live in the present, and plan for the future.

Although this division of time into three basic time zones is convenient, our experience of time is usually more complicated. For example: waiting for a bus takes a long time, but the last few days of a holiday pass quickly.

In English, the way we talk about time depends very much on the context, and does not always have built-in exactness.



There are lots of phrases that help us express time in the past. Here are some examples, starting with the nearest past:

I went to my Spanish class last night.
Kerry and Danny came round yesterday evening.
Yesterday it rained all day.     probably does not mean: without stopping
The day before yesterday was my birthday.
I read about that the other day.     probably means: within the last week
I lost my diary a few days ago.
We were in Malta last week.
I quit my job the week before last.
Last month, I started getting up an hour earlier.
A few months ago this house was nearly burnt to the ground.
Last year saw an increase in street crime.
Eighteen months ago there was an earthquake.
I met Paula a couple of years ago.
I started this business six or seven years ago.
It seems a long time ago.



There are lots of phrases that help us express time in the future. Here are some examples, starting with the nearest future:

Just a sec.     means: please wait a second
I'll be ready in a few minutes.
I'll take Martha-May to school in the morning.
Kerry and Danny are coming round tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow is pay day.
The day after tomorrow is my birthday.
I'll write to you in a day or two.     probably means: within a week
I'm going away for a couple of days.
We'll be in Malta next week.
I'm going to quit my job the week after next.
I'll have to start a diet soon.     probably means: not for a while
In a few months time this house will be sold.
Next year will see an increase in petrol prices.
In eighteen months I'll be forty.
I want to live in India for a couple of years.
We'll probably move to the country in six or seven years.
Becoming a grandmother seems a long way away.

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The English Times
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Talking Technologies and Originators Copyright 2002