Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: time

Type: Article

We've got a lot of time for Tim Bowen. Make timeto read his latest article on idioms.

Make or do? It’s a frequently asked question. In terms of time, if you make time, you keep some of your time available for a particular purpose, as in ‘I’ll try and make time to deal with it next week’. If you are doing time, however, you are in prison. Presumably, you pass the time in your prison cell (prevent yourself from becoming bored) by reading or watching TV.

On the outside again, you are more likely to find yourself in the situation of needing to kill time (make it pass more quickly by doing something instead of just waiting), as in ‘Our flight was delayed by five hours so we killed time by having a nice meal’.

Sometimes, however, you may need more time to prepare for something or decide about something. In that situation you might play for time (cause a delay) and if you are the sort of person who reacts negatively to being nagged to do things more quickly by other people, you might say ‘I’ll do it in my own (good) time’ (in other words, when it is convenient for you and not before).

But, naturally, time waits for no one (used when telling someone to do something soon) and sometimes things happen more quickly than you expect, as in ‘We got a taxi from the airport and were in the city centre in (next to) no time’.

If you see something unusual, shocking or outrageous, instead of screaming or bursting out laughing, you might react with typical British sang-froid and say ‘Well, there’s a first time for everything’.

Finally, if you like or admire someone a lot, you might say ‘I’ve got a lot of time for her’ but, if the opposite is true, you would say ‘I don't have much time for her, I'm afraid'.

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