Yesterday my school bus got to my bus stop late. So my mother had to wait a lot. Actually we were held up in traffic. But today we reached the stop on time, but my mother wasn't there to get me. Thus the driver asked me "Where's your mom?" So I replied:

Actually we were held up in traffic and were far behind at this time yesterday.

We were stuck in traffic far behind at this time.

I used "at this time" to indicate that I am at the stop today at this time while we were far behind this location yesterday at this time.

Is the use of "far behind" in this context natural? I feel that it's sounds ambiguous. So is there a better way to express the "location"?

2 Answers 2


To be honest it does not really make any sense. It is a very complicated way to say something and the idiom is used incorrectly. The use of far behind is not needed. Your basic idea to use the arrival time comparison is correct The distance is irrelevant to the discussion.

It would be easy to say

Yesterday; we were still stuck in traffic at this time. She will be here later.

or more politely

Oh! she is coming at the same time as you dropped me off yesterday.

  • Can "quite a way back" work when I have to refer to my location with no reference point? Is there a better way to use a location with a reference point to say that we were really far away from the stop at this time? Aug 22, 2019 at 17:36
  • @It's about English There are quite a few different ways to refer to a location. However the problem in this context it that you are bound by the arrival ( time) of your Mother., this being the pivotal point of the argument. Therefore the use of the arrival time comparison is correct. To try to add a second reference only confuses the statement. You could try to change the whole focus away from time to location but ... Yesterday, at this time she would have needed to pick me up downtown. She will be here later.... this statement is not so clear.
    – Brad
    Aug 23, 2019 at 0:35
  • So doesn't "quite a way back" work? Aug 23, 2019 at 9:29
  • @It's about English I don't know how you could work a sentence containing, quite a way back and it be grammatically correct and have the meaning you want.
    – Brad
    Aug 23, 2019 at 9:49
  • Why is that? Like: "We were stuck in traffic quite a way (or "ways") back at this time yesterday". Aug 23, 2019 at 9:51

TLDR -- The Quick Answer: Simpler is better.

  • ✔️ Yes: My mom is probably late picking me up because we were so late yesterday.

  • ✔️ Yes: My mom must be late because we were so late yesterday.

  • ✔️ Yes: My mom must be late because yesterday, the bus was late.

  • ✔️ Yes: My mom must be late because yesterday, the bus was 20 minutes late, and she assumed that we would be that late every day.

  • ❌😕 No: My mom is not here because at this time yesterday, we were so far behind where we are today on the same route, much further behind schedule than we are today, in fact, that we arrived much later than scheduled, so she thought we would arrive at that later time every day, not knowing that it was a one-time traffic delay, so today, here we are, on time, and my mom is far behind where she needs to be on her route, namely here, having completed her drive to pick me up, but we are so far ahead of where we were at this time yesterday, that we are on time, and she is not here.

Don't do that.

Far Behind is pretty simple

The expression "far behind" is simple.

1. At the same time

Two people, at the same time, are going the same direction. Or two cars. Or two horses. That's it.

  • ✔️ Yes: Alice is far behind Carol.

  • ✔️ Yes: The horse at the left is too far behind to win.


-- Photo: Mostafameraji/Wikimedia Commons

2. Something is going to happen after something else, in the same place.

  • ✔️ Yes: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

― Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind"

This is figurative. The two things (winter and spring) are on the same timeline.

The before leads directly to the after.

This is simpler than the "No" sentence above, because we are not trying to say we were at a position {along the route} that is further (not far) behind, at a different time (yesterday, not today) -- those two ideas at once are too complicated for "far behind".

With "far behind", keep it simple.

  • But is the sentence: We were stuck quite a ways back in traffic at this time yesterday. natural? Sep 6, 2019 at 14:40

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