First of all consider two lines:

  1. The lesson had ended by the time I arrived.
  2. The lesson had ended at the time I arrived.

Now I wanted to ask you, among the above two lines which one is correct and define reason to be the right and wrong. Another thing is the difference between "At the time" and "By the time" and in what situation we will use which one

If I made any mistakes in the question then please mention it in the comment.

1 Answer 1


In order to help, I'll write two sentences, both correct, and tell you what those mean.

  1. The lesson had ended by the time I arrived.

This sentence is used correctly. It means that when you arrived, the lesson was already over-- a minute ago, an hour ago, five hours ago... The word "by" just means the lesson ended before you arrived.

  1. The lesson ended at the time I arrived.

I changed the verb tense to make this sentence correct, because when you use the word "at," you are saying that the lesson ended when you walked in the door. It is more specific.

  • Also, although you are completely correct I'd point out that you'd never say #2 because if you were describing that it ended at the same time you would want to emphasize the timing by saying something like "The lesson ended just as I arrived". Although valid I don't think I've ever heard #2 used in this kind of scenario.
    – Bill K
    Oct 18, 2016 at 23:41

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