Normally, after my daughter finishes her dinner, I let her watch TV for awhile up to 7:30pm. I will turn on the TV, she can not turn it on by herself.

For example, if she finishes her dinner at 6:45 then she can watch TV for 45 minutes

If she finishes her dinner at 7:15 then she can watch TV for 15 minutes

Now she finished her dinner at 7:00, but I was busy at that moment so I couldn't turn the TV on for her.

I might finish my work at 7:30 or 8pm (the specific time is unknown).

When I am done with my work, I will let her watch TV for 30 minutes.

Is it correct for me to say "I'll make up the lost time by letting you watch TV until later" or "I'll make up for the lost time by letting you watch TV until later"?

I saw these 2 meanings in the dictionary

1- make (something) up or make up (something) : to provide an amount of time, money, etc., that is needed

I have to leave work early today, but I'll make up the time by working late tomorrow.

2-make up for (something) : to do or have something as a way of correcting or improving (something else)

She tried to make up for lost time by working extra hard.

These 2 examples are quite similar and I don't know when to use "for" and when not to use it.

  • 1
    If your daughter is too young to turn on the TV herself, these verbs in conversation with her are very unlikely. Because they assume she will understand the idea of lost time and how to regain it. For a small child like that one would simply say something like: I'll let you have more TV time some other day.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 25 at 14:24

2 Answers 2


to make up the time concerns time.

  • I left work early yesterday. I'll have to make up that time next week.

to make up for something concerns something that occurred that you caused.

  • You missed my birthday. Are you planning to make up for that by taking me out for dinner?

So, these two uses: "I'll make up the lost time by letting you watch TV until later"* or "I'll make up for the lost time by letting you watch TV until later"? are grammatically correct but unsuitable for a small child.

  • [preferred] "I'll make it up to you by letting you watch TV until later"

We probably would not mention "lost time" per se here.


The meanings are very similar and both sound fairly natural to me. The implication is clear either way, and I might not think about the difference unless dissecting written text. I'd say there's a subtle distinction in who makes up or makes up for the lost time, however.

I'd say it is your daughter who is "making up the lost time", since she is the one actually doing the action that was missed earlier. This phrase carries the implication of action over a duration, I'm not sure you yourself could make up lost time just by letting someone else do something. Of course, there could be shades of meaning depending on how much someone is acting on another's behalf. In this case, however, it's your daughter spending time that she would have earlier, so she's the one making up lost time, not you.

I'd say either you or her could be "making up for the lost time", implying that something is being done to correct for the time that was lost earlier. Your granting permission makes up for the lost time, but doesn't make up the lost time itself. If you grant 30 minutes of TV time but your daughter chooses not to watch for the allotted time, you could say that you made up for the missed time (you corrected the earlier problem), even though she did not make up the time (she did not actually spend the time she would have earlier).

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