Are these below sentences the same?

It's time for him to learn

It's time he learned

Source: A forum thread and movie subtitles

Movie is in Hindi but there are subtitles in English

  • 1
    Why do you think they are or aren't?
    – Lambie
    Mar 29 '21 at 15:14

Those two phrases do not have quite the same meaning.

It is time for [something to happen] is a simple statement that now is the right time for that thing.

It's time to start sowing seeds in your garden.

It is time [somebody] did [something] has a suggestion of reproach - they really ought to have done it by now.

It's time you learned to tie your own shoelaces.

For this usage, see https://www.grammaring.com/its-high-time . (The idiom it's high time adds extra emphasis.)

  • Can you please explain later part in more details with example?
    – Pankaj
    Mar 29 '21 at 15:09
  • Does this help? (The idiom 'it's high time' adds extra emphasis.) Mar 29 '21 at 15:16
  • Separately from the "potential reproach" issue, compare #1 It's time to go to college and #2 It's time you went to college. Both could be used in contexts where the reference is to current clock time, but #2 could also be used where the time reference is far less precise (perhaps speaker is telling addressee that now he's had his "gap year", he should think about resuming full-time education). Mar 29 '21 at 15:17
  • @KateBunting : The link you shared is very useful. Can you please update the answer with the link?
    – Pankaj
    Mar 29 '21 at 15:49
  • Can you please help me here? ell.stackexchange.com/questions/288074/…
    – Pankaj
    Jun 5 '21 at 16:26

Both can be used to convey one of the following:

  1. There is an appropriate time on or before which a person should learn the thing in question, and that time is now.
  2. The speaker is frustrated that the person in question has made some kind of error, or committed some kind of offence, perhaps repeatedly.

However, while both of the forms of words you procided can mean either of the above, the first form almost always has meaning #1, while the second form would typically have meaning #2. For example:

John needs to have covered all four subjects in order to graduate, and since the ceremony is only a month away it's time for him to learn 'Wheeltapping and Shunting'.

That's the the tenth time this week John has told me to shut up. It's time he learned that he can't talk to me like that!

One other nuance, concerning meaning #2. The form as given:

It's time he learned

may suggest that the speaker intends to have action taken against the person. Whereas the following:

It's about time he learned

removes that suggestion. That softening can be taken even further if necessary by converting to a question:

Isn't it about time he learned...?


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