What's the difference between on time and in time?

Often you can use either, but there is a small difference in meaning. Look at these examples, then choose on time or in time to complete the rules.

English trains almost never leave on time - they are often late.

I arrived at the station in time for a cup of coffee before my train.

 is used to mean before something happens. It's often used to say you had enough time to do something (usually with to + verb, or for + noun).

 is used when something happens at a scheduled time - it is punctual. It is usually contrasted with late.

With in time, we often use just or plenty to say how early you are.

I arrived just in time for my train. (immediately before the scheduled time)

I arrived in plenty of time for my train. (with lots of time before)

Practice

Choose the best word to complete these sentences.

  1. I arrived at the bus stop just  to see the bus leaving.
  2. We arrived at the cinema  to see the trailers before the film.
  3. I'm usually late for work, but yesterday I was .
  4. Superman arrived  to save all the people from the burning building.
  5. This morning, I got up  to see the sunrise.
  6. The train didn't leave  because of electrical problems.
  7. Our teacher is always late. The lessons never start .
  8. I hope my bus is  - I don't want to be late for my doctor's appointment.
  9. If we leave now, we can get there  to help prepare for the party.
  10. My wedding didn't start  because I got stuck in a traffic jam.