31 Most Common Collocations about Time: Free Time, Leisure Time, Spare Time, Waste Time,…


 Collocations about Time

The only thing that everybody has the same amount of in a single day is time. There is no way to get more of it, but there is a way to make sure that you do not let any of the time you have go to waste! Because of that, many people talk about time day in and day out.

We always make plans with people at a specific time to ensure that everyone will be there, and we can get angry at other people who do not show up when they promised that they would.

Being late is such a problem that most people will leave their houses or previous locations early so that they can arrive at their meetings on time or early. Some people want to save so much time that they have the saying, “Time is money!”

Whether you are someone who is always on time or not, it is important to remember how much of it you have and how to spend it wisely.

If you would like to make sure to optimize the time you spend doing various things, learn these phrases and collocations about money!

Idioms and Phrases with Time

As with other important concepts, English has many different idiomatic and proverbial phrases with time. These are just some of the ways that time is used to express different meanings!

1. Time heals all

When you have a really bad accident, or you feel terrible (such as after getting your heart broken by a significant other), other people may say this to you. Using time heals all means that it takes time to get over something bad or sad that has happened to you.

However, if you have enough time, you will be able to move on and find love again, or feel happy enough to go out and play with your friends. You may feel terrible now and just want to stay in bed and cry, but over time, it will be much better.

Whether you are dealing with a huge challenge like having your house burn down, or simply a really personal one, such as your parent passing away, you should not worry. Given enough time, you will heal and get better.

  • I know you feel like the world is ending right now, but never forget that time heals all and you will feel alright again in no time.
  • Never be afraid to look towards the future if you are in a bad time. Because time heals all, you will be able to thrive again.

2. Time flies (when you’re having fun)

Sometimes this phrase is just time flies, but if you are having a great time and hanging out with your friends and loved ones, you can say time flies when you’re having fun. This means that time flies by – or that it passes very quickly.

You may have met your friends at 10 o’clock in the morning, and spent the entire day with them. It would be surprising for you to suddenly realize that it is late in the afternoon and time for you to go back home.

Because you were having such a great time, you forgot to look at the time. As a result, you can say time flies when you’re having fun.

  • The best way to try to learn a language is to tie it to doing something fun, such as watching your favorite television show. After all, time flies when you’re having fun!
  • Are you sure that two hours at the mall with your friends will be enough? You know that time flies when you’re having fun!

3. Time is money

This is an idiom that your family might say to you when they are tired of waiting around for you. Instead of continuing to nag you and hoping that you will work faster and move quickly, they can say, “Time is money!

This means that time is as valuable as money, making it very valuable and important. You need to make sure that you save money because you may be losing money when you take a long time to work.

This could also refer to the fact that most people earn money when they put in a certain number of hours into something. If you work for eight hours, you will get paid a certain amount.

You will only earn half of that amount if you work for four hours. Because the number of hours you put into something translate directly to the amount of money that you can earn, you can also say in this case that time is money.

The other situation in which people say this phrase is when they want to save time. Instead of taking a bus from home to work, for example, someone may choose to take a taxi.

It is more expensive than taking the bus (probably by a lot), but in bad weather or if you are in a rush, it is worth it. You would rather pay the extra money than stand and wait for the bus, and then wait again when it stops at all the stops along the way.

  • I do not care about paying for the personal driver because time is money, and my chauffeur saves me an hour each day.
  • Do not forget that time is money, so it is important to save it when you can and use it wisely when you cannot.

4. Time drags on

When something is really boring and you feel that it is taking forever, the time drags on. It could be a graduation ceremony for your sibling or the opening ceremony for the dance recital; either way, you cannot wait for it to be over.

In this case, it seems that the minutes and hours crawl by and time drags on.

You can remember this verb by picturing time as a very heavy physical object (maybe a box or something).

When you are walking along and pulling it with you, it moves very slowly because it is so heavy. As a result, you have to drag it behind you and end up moving pretty slowly. Thus, the time is dragging behind you!

  • Whenever I have to wait in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, a minute can feel like a day because time drags on there!
  • If you are giving a speech and do not want your audience to feel that time is dragging on while you are talking, use jokes or stories to keep them engaged!

5. Over time

Over time is the opposite of right away. Something that happens over time takes a long time to develop, plan, or just come to fruition.

Instead of being able to start dating someone and have it be successful, many of the best relationships develop over time.

This means that the two people get to know each other, become friends, start to like each other, and have a foundation of friendship before they start their relationship.

Similarly, learning a new skill (such as a language) or getting good at something happens over time, rather than overnight.

There is no specified time that separates something that happens over time with something that happens quickly. It usually depends on the expectations of the event and how it compares to similar timelines.

  • I studied new English words every day, and over time, I was really pleased with how much progress I made.
  • You cannot expect yourself to learn everything you need for the test in one day; you need to work on studying over time so that you can know the material!

6. The mists of time

Typically, the beginning of this phrase has something lost in the mists of time. The idiomatic phrase is used to show that something happened a really long time ago, but the exact date is unknown.

Because of that, the time is reminiscent of fairy tales with their misty forests and mountains. The mists are not clear, and it is easy to get lost. As a result, the mists of time are a time long, long ago that are unclear.

  • Some parts of history, such as the location of the ancient underwater kingdom of Atlantis, will always be lost in the mists of time.
  • Before we had all these scientific techniques to determine when different fossils came from, their dates were shrouded in the mists of time.

7. This/the same time tomorrow (or any other day)

When you are coordinating a meeting with someone, you want to make sure that they know when to meet you. If you have the same meeting with the same person again, you can keep the same time so they will remember.

Saying this time tomorrow if you met at 3 pm today means that your next meeting will be at 3pm tomorrow. Saying the same time next week if you meet on 4 pm on Monday means your next meeting should be at 4 pm next Monday.

You can also say this time for next month or on a specific day (October 10, on Tuesday, etc.).

  • I think it would be good to have all our departmental meetings at the same time. Is everyone free at the same time next week?
  • If you are around this area at the same time on Wednesday, you should be able to see the company CEO walking around.

8. Set time

To have a set time means that you have coordinated a time with someone to do something. As long as you have agreed to come at a specific time, or will meet someone at a time that both of you agree on, you have a set time.

Note that to set a time is the phrasal verb for determining or deciding what time to meet.

  • The nice thing about this job is that I do not have a set time that I need to do the work; I only need to make sure I meet deadlines.
  • Our group always has trouble setting a time to work on our group project, so we try to do all the work at home and meet only when we really need to.

9. Have/ going through a rough/ hard/ tough time

If you have a rough or hard time, it means that things are not working in your favor. Things are going wrong and you have to face a lot of different challenges all the time.

It is usually something temporary, as you can make it through the rough time, but while you are going through the rough time, you could be miserable, tired, and very stressed out.

  • I know that James is going through a hard time right now, so it would be best if everyone could cut him some slack.
  • When I was going through a tough time in college, I really struggled in school because I did not know what I should do.

10. To be pressed for time

When you do not have enough time to do what you want, you are pressed for time. This is typically used when you are trying to prepare for something that will happen soon, or that you have something you need to do before a deadline.

However, it can also apply to a time when you have, for example, a month to do a project that should take six weeks. Any time that you have too little time to do something, you can say that you are pressed for time.

  • I hate to be pressed for time because that always makes me so stressed out.
  • Kevin wanted to blame the fact that they were pressed for time on the fact that his wife was not finished packing until the last minute, but in reality, they were late because he had not used his phone to figure out which roads had a traffic accident.

11. On time

If you are on time to somewhere, it means that you arrive there just as it begins. You are not early, nor are you late. If the concert starts at 8 pm, then you would be on time if you arrived at the concert venue exactly at 8:00 pm.

  • If you are not on time to the meeting, Polly will give you the most work to do because timeliness is the most important thing in her book.
  • In order to start the conference on time, the conference director requests that you arrive to the hotel lobby at least 5 minutes early so you can find the correct room.

12. Just in (the nick of) time

There are also two ways to say this phrase. If something happens at the last minute, it is just in time. Something that is just in the nick of time is similar, but it tends to be closer to the deadline than something that is merely in time.

Either way, this can describe something that happens right when you have started to give up hope that it will happen.

For example, if you need to catch a plane that is about to leave, you probably need to run through the airport.

If you make it to the boarding gate with 2 minutes to spare (two minutes before the closing of the gates), then you have made it just in time! However, if you make it just before the doors close, you have made it just in the nick of time.

  • Rebecca told me she would need me to come to her office in 30 minutes, and fortunately I made it just in the nick of time!
  • The last time that Julie had tickets to see the Broadway theater, she made it to the entrance just in the nick of time before the show started!

13. It’s about time

When you are frustrated about something, you might use this phrase. Saying it’s about time! means that something has finally or at last happened.

You have been waiting for something for a long time, longer than you expect, and you want it to come quickly. The phrase is almost always used in a sarcastic way.

  • We have been waiting for our food for over an hour; it’s about time that we get it!
  • I know that you have been working on your business for years now, so it really is about time that you get your big break!

Adjective + Time

There are many different ways to describe the time you have!

1. Precious time

Because you only have a limited amount, your time is precious. It is valuable, and can be as important as someone’s jewelry or money. To describe the value of time, you can use this adjective.

  • Do not waste this precious time on playing games; you should be finishing your projects!
  • When you have a near death experience, you begin to realize how precious time really is.

2. Free time

Free time is the hours and days that you have to do anything that you want. You do not have to go to work, help someone do something, or even keep someone company. Instead, you are able to choose anything that you want.

Even though this is usually used to refer to time outside of work or school, it can also be time during those things that you do not have responsibilities.

  • It seems that I have a really full schedule, but when I sat down and thought about it, I have a lot of free time.
  • The boss expects Wendy to be on call for her job even in her free time; it was too much for her, so she quit.

3. Leisure time

Leisure time is similar to free time. The small difference is that leisure time is always used for leisure – for play and vacation and relaxing.

It does not refer to breaks you have during the work day, only the days that you take off work when you want to have a longer vacation.

  • People who work in different fields have vastly different amounts of leisure time.
  • Sally wanted to use all her leisure time for the year at the same time, so she went to Puerto Rico for almost three weeks.

4. Spare time

Spare time is any time that you have that is extra. You probably have no or few responsibilities, so you can use it to relax or help someone with something.

  • As I grew older, I had less and less spare time.
  • Bernie’s spare time all goes to working on his nonprofit organization, and he is really proud of the result!

5. Record time

Something that happens in record time sets a record because of how fast it is. This can be a literal record of some sort or just a figurative way to say that something happens really fast.

  • Vanessa finished her quiz in record time, but it turns out that was only because she skipped half the questions.
  • Ben wanted to eat a snack, so he finished his work in record time and then went to the kitchen.

Verb + Time

1. Spend time

To spend time means to use it.

  • You should only spend time on the things that you value.
  • I have never understood why Tom spends so much time watching television instead of doing house chores.

2. Waste time

To waste time means to use time in a bad way. Instead of working on something that you should be doing, you end up using the time in a way that is unproductive.

Then, rather than having time at the end, you are stuck with an unfinished project, chores, homework, etc. that you have to do at another time.

  • My mother never let my brother and me watch television during the week when we were young because she thought we would waste time doing it.
  • The best bosses not only motivate their workers, they also help them learn not to waste time.

3. Make time (for)

If something if important to you, you make time to do it. This means that you find some time in your schedule to do it, even if you are busy.

  • The way you know that you are important to someone is when you see them make time for you, even when they have a million other responsibilities.
  • “If you can’t even make time for a date on our anniversary, maybe we should take a break!” yelled Gordon.

4. Run out of time

If you are past a deadline, or can’t finish something when it is due, you have run out of time. There is not enough time to finish what you need to.

Usually, this phrase is used only for something that is timed, such as a test, or a situation that has changed to the point where you can no longer reverse what has happened.

  • Trevor ran out of time on his test, so he could only finish 24 of the 25 questions on it.
  • Liam ran out of time to apply for a refund on his broken radio, so he would not be able to get his money back.

5. Take time off

If you take time off, it means that you use your vacation days for work or school. Instead of doing what you normally do, such as working, you take that time to go on vacation, travel, and enjoy yourself.

  • Jeremy has not taken time off from his job in years, because he claims that he loves working so much.
  • When a police officer is accused of police brutality, they are usually forced to take some time off while they undergo an investigation.

6. Stall for time

If you want something to happen later, you can stall for time to prevent it from happening. For example, you can go to your college class on the day of the test.

If you do not want to take the test yet, you can try to ask the teacher a lot of questions about the material, ask them to repeat themselves, or even cause trouble to avoid having to start the test. If you do these things, you are stalling for time.

  • There are really two types of people when they encounter challenges – those who would rather stall for time and those who would rather jump with their feet first.
  • The teacher knew that Leo was simply stalling for time by asking her about her vacation in Rome, so she responded, “It was great!” and then moved on.

7. Pass the time

If you have too much time, you need to pass the time. This is something that you do while you are waiting in the doctor’s office, in traffic, or any other situation.

You have nothing that you need to do, so you pass the time (let time pass) by playing games, reading, watching TV shows and movies, and other things for entertainment.

  • The restaurant told the family that they would have to wait for at least another two hours before they could have a free table to sit, so they had to pass the time
  • If you work strategically, you can do something really productive while you pass the free time at work, and end up with a really great product.

8. Kill time

To kill time means to pass the time by doing something unproductive. Usually, this means that you have a lot of free time, but instead of using it to work on something, you use it to entertain yourself.

You probably have kill hundreds of hours by watching television shows, browsing social media, and reading articles about things that do not influence your life at all.

  • While we waited for my father’s plane to arrive at the airport, my brother and I killed time by walking around and filming a vlog.
  • Mandy has to kill about three hours before she has to go to work.

9. Take your time

If you tell someone to take their time, it means that they can move at their own pace. They have enough time that they do not have to rush, or that you are okay with waiting for them while they get ready for something.

This is a very popular phrase to reassure someone who is beginning to get nervous, or someone who is scared or feeling bad that they are making you wait.

  • We have an hour and a half before the show starts, so you can take your time and not rush!
  • When you do something difficult, make sure to take your time, otherwise you will make many mistakes and end up spending more time fixing them!

10. Save time

To save time means to do something quickly and not do anything you do not have to do. If you are about to be late, you need to do anything you can to save time!

Examples of time-saving techniques include taking a taxi instead of public transportation, or writing an abbreviation instead of the words.

  • It should not take us five weeks to finish a single order; how can we save time and make more money?
  • It is important to work quickly and save time, but sometimes doing so means that you end up making errors that will cost you much more time to correct.

11. Have a great time

To have a great time means to enjoy yourself and be happy. This is a great saying for someone who wants to wish another person a good experience on something.

  • “Have a great time on your first day of school, honey!” Pedro’s mom said as he walked towards the school bus.
  • Anyone who works in the tourism industry wants you to have a great time on a trip to their country.

12. To tell time

If you look at a clock and can tell what time it is, you can tell time. This is usually used to describe the skill of reading an analog clock, the circle with two hands rather than the digital clocks that tell you the exact time.

  • The first grade class learned to tell time in school today.
  • If I am tired, I sometimes forget how to tell time.

13. To keep time

If you are racing against someone else to see who is faster at something, you need to make sure someone is on the sidelines keeping time for you.

This means that they have a stopwatch and can tell you how much time it took you to run around the track, how long you were holding your breath, etc.

  • I want to race Daniel, so Wendy, could you keep time for us?
  • Instead of humans keeping time at important competitions like the Olympics or World Championships, they have all kinds of sensors and machines that do it, and they can differentiate to the 0.01 second!
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