Time is a big part of life, and there are a lot of English phrases and expressions that are related to it. Here are some of the most popular ones,
1 against the clock
Meaning: if you work against the clock, you are trying very hard to finish something before a deadline
Use: Police are working against the clock to find the evidence they need.
2 around the clock
Meaning: all day and all night
Use: The nurses worked around the clock to look after the injured child.
3 back in the day
Meaning: a time in the past; used mostly when you are remembering nice things
Use: My parents say Hong Kong’s pollution wasn’t a problem back in the day, and the sky was always blue.
4 behind the times
Meaning: old-fashioned; not modern
Use: Anyone who isn’t on Snapchat is behind the times and needs to catch up!
5 call it a day/night
Meaning: decide that you have finished doing something for now
Use: We’ve been working on this project since 6am. Let’s call it a day, and finish it tomorrow.
6 crunch time
Meaning: a point at which something difficult must be done
Use: The elections have been entertaining, but now it’s crunch time, and the candidates must prove they are worthy
7 day in the sun
Meaning: a time when you get attention and are appreciated
Use: If she keeps working so hard, she will have her day in the sun and be promoted.
8 someone’s days are numbered
Meaning: they will not exist for much longer
Use: After it got knocked over by that truck, my bike’s days are numbered.
9 at the eleventh hour
Meaning: at the last moment; almost too late
Use: The director was making changes to the script at the eleventh hour – I mean, the audience were already in the hall!
10 five o’clock shadow
Meaning: when a man’s facial hair starts showing a little bit when he hasn’t shaved since morning
Use: Andy thinks he has five o’clock shadow, but I’m sure it’s just dirt.
11 make good time
Meaning: travel quickly
Use: Luckily there was no traffic, and we made good time to the border.
12 never in a month of Sundays
Meaning: very, very unlikely to happen
Use: Shelley will never in a month of Sundays agree to go out with Richard!
13 in the nick of time
Meaning: at the last possible moment
Use: Mum saw the plate falling and caught it in the nick of time.
14 once in a blue moon
Meaning: very, very rarely
Use: Once in a blue moon, I really feel like watching a musical, but generally I prefer action thrillers.
15 play for time
Meaning: to purposely delay doing something, or do it more slowly than usual, so you have more time to decide what to do
Use: When Dad asked Molly what happened to the window, she gave him a big hug and said how much she loved him. But she was just playing for time – I know she broke it!
16 since time immemorial
Meaning: for a very, very long time; since before anyone can remember
Use: Our school has had the same, ugly uniform since time immemorial.
17 a stitch in time saves nine
Meaning: it is better to deal with problems immediately, otherwise they will get worse and take even longer to deal with
Use: Andy and Alex should really break up if they argue so much. It will be painful, but a stitch in time saves nine, and it’s better to do it before they say something they can’t take back!
18 time flies
Meaning: time passes surprisingly quickly
Use: Time flies when you have three essays to write in a night.
19 time on your hands
Meaning: a period when you have nothing to do
Use: Grandma has a lot of time on her hands now she’s retired, so she volunteers at the SPCA.
20 time is money
Meaning: time is valuable, and you shouldn’t waste it.
Use: Why are you just sitting staring at the ceiling? Time is money! Get up and do something practical!
21 time is on my side
Meaning: I have a lot of time to finish something
Use: Since Mr Ng gave us an extension on that project, time is on my side, and I can make it really great.
22 to the end of time
Use: I will be a Justin Bieber fan to the end of time, even if he stops singing.
23 wasn’t born yesterday
Meaning: not stupid or naive
Use: I tried to trick my aunt into sticking her hand in a bag full of jelly, but she said she wasn’t born yesterday, and tipped it over my head!