While. Since. By. As soon as. By the time. What do these words mean? Let’s find out.
What’s up guys? My name is Shane and today we are talking about time words and expressions in English. Understanding time words and expressions in English is very very important because if a native speaker uses one of these words with you and you don’t understand, you might not know what time or what day he is talking about.
But don’t worry because time words in English are actually very easy when you understand what they mean. So today we are talk about 5 time words and 3 time expressions commonly used by native speakers in daily conversation.
And make sure you watch until the end of the video because there will be a quiz to test your understanding. Okay, let’s get started.
While I was using my computer, the phone rang. What does while mean here?
When did the phone ring? Before I used my computer? At the time I was using my computer? Or after I used my computer? It happened at the same time.
This is what while means. Something happened at the same time something else was happening.
So let’s pretend the phone rang at 4pm. What was I doing at this time? I was using my computer.
Let’s look at another example. While I was working, he came to talk to me.
When did he talk to me? When I was working or after I had finished working? He talked to me at the same time I was working. Not before, not after but at that time.
I’ve been making YouTube videos since July 2020.
When did I start? June? July? Or august? In July. This is what since means.
Since means from the time that I said.
So from July, I started making YouTube videos.
What about this one? He been living in New York since March. When did he get there? February, March or April? He got there in March. Because since means from the time that I stated.
And if you look at both of these sentences, what tense are they? You will see that they are both perfect tenses.
So just remember, normally we use since with perfect tenses and since means from the time that I said.
You need to finish the work project by Monday.
What does the word by here mean? When should the project be finished? On Sunday? On Monday? On Tuesday? The word by here means not later than.
So if I finish the project on Sunday, is that okay? Yes.
If I finish the project at 11:59pm on Monday, is that okay? Yes. Because 11:59pm on Monday is still not later than Monday.
But if I finish the project on Tuesday, is that okay? No. Because Tuesday is later than Monday.
The word by can sometimes be confusing even for native speakers.
For example, if someone used the word by with me, I would probably ask them for more information.
Let’s pretend someone said to me ‘Shane, your car will be ready to pick up by Monday.’ I would ask him what time on Monday? Do you mean in the morning? Do you mean in the afternoon or do you mean in the evening?
So when you’re using the word by, it’s sometimes better to give more information.
With our first example, we could say you need to finish the work project by 5pm on Monday. So now we know it will be finished not later than 5pm. So it might not be ready to look at it in the morning.
If you need to see the work project in the morning, you could say you need to finish the work project by 9am on Monday. So now know it will be finished not later than 9am. So when you get to work it will be ready to use.
So just remember, by means not later than and sometimes it better to give more information to make it more clear.
As soon as
As soon as I get home, I am going to sleep.
What does as soon as mean in this sentence? Will I go to sleep before I get home? At the time I get home or after I get home? As soon as means when the first thing happens you will do the second thing.
So let’s pretend you get home at 4pm. You will go to sleep at 4pm. When the first thing happens, you will do the second thing.
Let’s have a look at another example. As soon as I finish editing this video, I’ll upload it.
When will I upload it? Before I finish editing? At the time I finish editing? Or after I finish editing? At the time I finish editing. Because, as soon as means: at that time.
Editing finishes at 6pm, then I will upload the video at 6pm.
So just remember, as soon as means when the first thing happens, then you will do the second thing.
By the time
By the time I got home, they had already eaten the pizza.
What does by the time here mean? When did they finish the pizza? Before I got home? After I got home? They probably finished it before I got home.
So by the time here means when. When I got home, they pizza had already been eaten.
We normally use by the time to talk about two events.
So, by the time I got home, this is event number two.
They had already finished the pizza. This is event number one.
We don’t know what time they finished the pizza. All we know is that at the time I got home, the pizza had been eaten already.
Now let’s look at another example. By the time he got to the bus station, the bus had already left.
So what happened first here? Did the bus leave or did he get to the station? The bus left. And then, he got to the station and he saw that there was no bus.
Because remember, by the time can mean when or at the time.
So at the time he arrived, maybe he arrived at 4pm, the bus had already left. It had left at some time before 4pm.
So just remember: when we use by the time, we normally have two events.
And when we’re putting it into a sentence, event 2 normally comes first.
So, by the time he got to the bus station. This is event number 2. It happened second.
The bus had already left. This is event number 1 because the bus left before he got to the bus station.
If we drive to the park, instead of walking, it will save time.
What does save time here mean? What would be faster? Driving or walking? Driving.
So save time here means to take less time. To be more efficient. To be quicker.
Another example: you need to find a way to save time with your tasks at work.
So at the moment am I working efficiently or not efficiently? Probably not efficiently.
So this sentence is saying that I need to work more efficiently, I need to use less time to do my tasks.
In the nick of time
I got to the bus station just in the nick of time to catch my bus.
What does in the nick of time mean? Did I get to the bus station early? No.
Did I get to the bus station late? No, but when I got to the bus station, did I have a lot of time or only just a little bit? Just a little bit. Maybe 10 seconds, 30 seconds.
So this is what in the nick of time means. It means you weren’t early. You weren’t late but you got there just in time.
Maybe you had 10 seconds to wait or 30 seconds to wait. You got there just in time before the event happened like in this example, the bus leaving the station.
Another example: the police got there just in the nick of time to catch the criminal.
Did the police get there early with a lot of time? No.
Did they get there late? No.
But when they got there, did they have a lot of time to catch the criminal? No.
Maybe they only had 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute.
They had a tiny bit of time to catch the criminal so if they got there maybe 1 minute later, do you think they would have caught the criminal? Probably not. Because remember, in the nick of time means you got there in time but you only had a tiny bit of time left before the event happened.
Time after time
Time after time he was late for school.
What am I talking about? Past present or future? I am talking about the past.
And am I talking about many times or just one time? Many many times.
This is what the phrase time after time means. It means something has happened many many many times. Again and again and again. It’s a repeated action.
What about this one? Shane has told us time after time that learning English is easy.
Have I told you in the past? Yes.
Have I told you many times? Repeatedly? Yes I have.
So this is the meaning of time after time. It means someone has done something many many times in the past. It’s a repeated action and they’ve done it again and again and again.
Okay so we have learned 5 new time words and 3 new time expressions. So let’s have a little quiz to check your understanding. I will show you a sentence with a missing word and I want you to fill in the missing word with one of the words or one of the expressions that we have learned today.
Number 1. He has been studying English __ 2019. He has been studying English __ 2019. And the correct answer is: since. He has been studying English since 2019. Why? Because it’s a present perfect tense and we are talking about when it stated. We are giving a specific time. We are not giving a length of time. We’re not saying 1 years, 2 years, 3 years. We are saying when it started.
Number 2. _______ I got to the bank, it had already closed. _______ I got to the bank, it had already closed. And the correct answer is: by the time I got to the bank, it had already closed. We use by the time because we are talking about 2 events. First the bank closed and then I got there and I couldn’t get into the bank because it was closed.
Question 3. He has told me ________ that I need to study English. He has told me ________ that I need to study English. And the correct answer is: He has told me time after time that I need to study English. We use time after time here because it’s happened many many times.
Question 4. Finish the project ___ Monday 5pm. Finish the project ___ Monday 5pm. And the correct answer is: finish the project by Monday 5pm. We use by because we want it to happen before a certain time.
And the last question, question number 5. You waste too much time doing that. You need to find a way to _______. You waste too much time doing that. You need to find a way to _______. And the correct answer is: You waste too much time doing that. You need to find a way to save time. Remember, save time means to work more efficiently or to use less time.
That is the end of the lesson today. Try using these phrases and these words and when you’re using them always think about what they mean. And if you’re interested in learning more phrases that you can use when speaking English, you can check out this video right here. If you have any questions, comment down below.
And make sure you subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already so you don’t miss any video that can help you understand English like a native speaker. If you learned something from the video today, please hit like and share this with your friends so they can understand these time expressions like a native speaker. And for daily quizzes and for weekly posts, lessons updates, make sure you are following me on Instagram. And I will see you in the next video. It will save us time. What does? What does as soon as here mean?