Words and phrases that indicate time help our listeners to understand exactly when things happened, happen, or will happen in our life! They also help us to keep our speech organized as we’re trying to communicate.

They’re absolutely necessary, and we use them all the time when we’re talking!

If you’re a beginner, this guide to time linkers is a great place to start. If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner, this is an important review.


COMMON TIME LINKERS IN DAILY SPEECH

These are some of our most common time linkers. It’s very important to note the sentence placement of these particular time linkers.

With these time linkers, you can either start the sentence with your time linker or end the sentence with your time linker. You should not put these time linkers in the middle of your sentence.

People will understand you, but it sounds funny! For example, it’s correct to say: Next week, I’m going to Valdivia. OR I’m going to Valdivia next week. NOT: I’m going next week to Valdivia. This is a very common mistake. Luckily, it’s easy to fix with practice! Let’s look at some examples.

Last - used to indicate that something happened in the day, week, year, etc. before the time you’re in

  • I completed my degree in psychology last year.

  • Last night, we studied Spanish together.

  • We celebrated Chilean Independence Day last week.

  • Last Friday, I went to the movies. I saw Black Panther.

  • She was living in Bolivia last year.

*Note that we never say last day. When talking about the previous day, say yesterday

Next - used to indicate that something will happen in the day, week, year, etc. following the time you’re in

  • The deadline for our big project is next Friday.

  • Next year, the company is launching a new marketing strategy for the product.

  • Their anniversary is next month.

  • Next time you give a presentation, be sure to speak more slowly.

  • Do you want to go skiing with me next week?

This - used to talk about the time remaining in a day, week, year, etc.

  • We’re going to get coffee this afternoon.

  • I’m hoping to travel to Brazil this year!

  • This week was intense. I hope next week will be more relaxed!

  • The weather has been beautiful this month.

Tomorrow - the day immediately after today!

  • Don’t forget that we have class tomorrow morning!

  • Tomorrow afternoon, I have to teach two classes.

  • Tomorrow night is my best friend’s birthday.

  • See you tomorrow!

Yesterday - the day immediately before today!

  • I took a run yesterday morning. I’m not sure if I’ll take a run today!

  • Yesterday afternoon, we had a very important meeting.

*Note that we almost never say yesterday night. It’s much more common to say last night!


COMMON TIME LINKERS IN THE PAST TENSE

These are some of the most common time linkers used to recount what happened in the past tense. You’ll need these linkers when you want to tell a story! The example sentences below form a paragraph. Read them all linked together below.

First - indicates the start, the initial step

First, we woke up early.

Then - indicates the next step

Then, we drank coffee and ate breakfast.

Next - indicates what happens immediately after

Next, we drove our car to the National Park.

After - indicates what’s following in time

After, we found where our hiking trail begins.

After that - indicates what’s following an already stated event, implied by that

We found a spot in the busy parking lot. After that, we prepared to start our hike.

Before - indicates what happened at an earlier time

Before starting the hike, we made sure that we had all of the food, water, and gear to hike safely!

Before that - indicates what happened earlier than an already stated event, implied by that

Once we were sure we had everything, we packed it all into our backpacks. Before that, we checked the map to confirm that we were starting on the right trail.

Finally - indicates that something happened last in a process

Finally, we started our hike at 10 AM!

Linked Together Paragraph:

First, we woke up early. Then, we drank coffee and ate breakfast. Next, we drove our car to the National Park. After, we found where our hiking trail begins. We found a spot in the busy parking lot. After that, we prepared to start our hike. Before starting the hike, we made sure that we had all of the food, water, and gear to hike safely! Once we were sure we had everything, we packed it all into our backpacks. Before that, we checked the map to confirm that we were starting on the right trail. Finally, we started our hike at 10 AM!


OTHER TIME LINKERS

During - 1) throughout the entire time of (an event, time period, etc.) OR 2) at some time in the course of something

Definition One Examples:

  • She exercises everyday during the week.

  • They were a couple during all four years of university.

Definition Two Examples:

  • It started to rain during the picnic.

  • She delivered her lecture during the conference.

While - happens at the same time as another action

  • I fell asleep while he was talking.

  • You can rest while I clean the house!

  • He’s taking care of two children while working a full-time job.

As soon as - happens directly after something else happened

  • I’ll wash the dishes as soon as we finish eating.

  • She received a promotion as soon as she finished her master’s degree.

  • Please respond to my message as soon as you have the information I requested.

By the time - indicates what has already happened by a certain point in time

  • By the time we arrived to the party, all of the guests had already left!

  • I had lived in three different states by the time I was 30 years old.

  • The fire had already been extinguished by the time the firefighters arrived.

Until - continues up to a certain time or point and then stops

  • She’s living in Antofagasta until next year.

  • I’m available to answer questions about the project until 5 PM today.

  • He’ll stay at the concert until he gets tired.

Since - from a specific point in time until now

  • She’s been taking English classes since January of last year.

  • He’s been working at the company since 2016.

  • I’ve been awake since 4 AM.

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- Written by Mariah

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