Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's about time

Yesterday, we learned the phrase it's high time. Today, we'll learn a similar phrase: it's about time, which can have the exact same meaning and used the same way as the expression, it's high time.

From our example yesterday, when a mother wants her teenaged son to put his money in the bank, she can say, "it's high time you opened a savings account." She can also say, "it's about time you opened a savings account." Both mean the same thing: the mother thinks that her son should open a savings account now most likely because she thinks he's old enough to do so.

However, depending on the context, you can also use it's about time after someone does what needs to be done to mean "finally, you did it." From the above example, after the son goes to the bank and opens a savings account, the mother can say, "it's about time you opened a savings account." Now she means, "finally, you did it." This can sound somewhat sarcastic or humorous, depending on the context. It implies that the mother has been waiting for the son to do it, and after a long wait and perhaps constant reminding, the son finally does it.

In another example from yesterday, the mother tells her son, "it's high time you went to bed" because she thinks it's time for him to get some sleep. When the son finally goes to bed, the mother can check his room and say, "it's about time he went to bed." Here she means, "finally, he went to bed." It implies that she has been waiting for him to go to bed and finally, he listens."

It's about time can also be used by itself. For example, when we have been waiting for a friend to arrive, and after 30 minutes, he finally shows up, we can simply say "It's about time!" This basically means "finally, you've arrived! We've been waiting for a long time!"

like this:

A: Have you heard? Jason found a job yesterday.
B: It's about time! He's been searching for a job for a while now, right?
A: Since February. He was getting really nervous.
B: I bet. It must be nerve-wracking to be out of work for so long. So what's he doing now?
A: He found work as an accountant.
B: Oh, that's great! That's what he studied in school, right?
A: Yeah. It's about time he worked in his field.

it's high time - It's really time now to do this; you should really do this now
context - situation, scenario
implies something - means something without saying it obviously
I bet - I'm sure that's true.
nerve-wracking - very stressful
what's he doing now? - (in this context, she's asking about Jason's job)

As usual, don't fret if it's a little confusing. You will get it with practice. Then you can say "finally! It's about time I understood this expression!" Try to use it as much as you can. Ask your teachers and friends who are native speakers if you're using it correctly, and as always, we will use this expression again in future blogs to give you more examples.

Good luck!

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