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Generally on time means at the exact moment and in time means within the given time.

Example:

We should be disciplined like seasons, as they are very punctual.

Summer comes and goes in time.
Summer comes and goes on time.
Summer comes and goes with respect to time.

What should be used in case of seasons?

Thank you.

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  • I'm not sure what you're trying to ask. Could you give some examples?
    – SamBC
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 11:05

1 Answer 1

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Of those three, in is the most natural sounding sentence—however, on is the closest in meaning to the sense of punctuality that you are trying to express.

Summer comes and goes in time.

This simply means that summer will eventually come and it will eventually go. It doesn't say anything about the precise time that this will happen.

With this meaning, the use of in time is redundant. it would sound more natural to drop the reference to time altogether, and just give a general statement:

→ Summer comes and goes.


Summer comes and goes on time.

The supposes that somebody has scheduled to start and stop at a particular time, and that summer actually does occur on or before then its start schedule, and that it actually stops on or before its stop schedule.

As a general statement about punctuality, this is an appropriate preposition, however, it's not something we'd normally say without qualification because nobody can predict how specific seasons will turn out.

So, one of the following (depending on context) would be more common:

→ Summer often comes and goes according to schedule.
→ Summer will come and go on schedule this year.

Using schedule makes it sound more natural in the case of the seasons—which cannot agree to a certain timeline. (While on time would be more appropriate when talking about a particular person's punctuality, or an event whose timing can be realistically determined—such as buses or business openings.)


Summer comes and goes with respect to time.

This sounds strange from any viewpoint I can think of. Unless you are talking about how summer comes and goes (gently, suddenly, and so on), its appearance and disappearance will always be considered in a temporal fashion. If talking about dates, it can't help but happen with respect to time. Even if you are making a distinction between manner and punctuality, with respect to time is not a phrase that would normally be used.

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