Red Alarm Clock with the hands at 10 and 2

In this BECC Academy Business English + Cultural Self-Awareness mini-lesson you will learn how to correctly use time expressions when making arrangements and planning.

We use time expressions often in business. It is therefore very important to make sure there is no misunderstanding when referring to time.

Use the information below to convey time expressions accurately in emails, reports, presentations, sales calls, meetings, negotiations . . . and all other aspects of business!

How to talk about time

  • Use on with days: Could we meet on Monday?
  • Use in with months, years and other expressions that refer to large periods of time, e.g. the seasons, segments of the day: I’m taking three weeks of vacation in July. Our annual management retreat is held in winter. I always make my sales calls first thing in the morning.
  • Use at with hours/minutes and other more precise expressions: Could you please call me at 3 pm? I need you to come to my office at once (at once = now, immediately).
  • Use next to refer to future times: I hope we can meet again next week.
  • Use when to start a future time clause: Let’s meet again when it is convenient.

Time and cultural self-awareness

How people view time can vary greatly across cultures.

It is easy to get annoyed or angry if your colleague or client from another culture does not have the same attitude towards time that you do.

There are two main cultural attitudes towards time:

Time is linear and limited

Time is a valuable commodity and every second “wasted” is a second that is gone forever.In this perspective, being late is bad: “Time is money” 

Time is fluid

Time is abundant, malleable and cyclical. In this perspective, there is always more time later: “When God made time, he made plenty of it”


Understanding which attitude you have will help you to be patient and calm when you interact with a person who has a different attitude towards time.

Remember: their behavior is not personal . . . it’s cultural!


Tell Us!

Have you had problems with using or understanding the present continuous? Do -ing words cause you problems?

We want to answer all of your questions about business English.

Email us at

PS. If you’ve experienced a culture clash, tell us about that too!




Sign up here for weekly mini-lessons in Business English + Cultural Self-Awareness delivered Tuesdays (GMT).

Recommended Posts