A Primary School Story “Ranger Anne and the Clever Tiger”

Inside it says:

She thinks, “Tim, it’s time you got some exercises.”

Why is it got and not get?

  • We say "in" the story and use "inside" with buildings.
    – TimR
    Apr 21 at 13:36
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? It's time I go to bed vs It's time I went to bed? Apr 21 at 18:10
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    @psmears Yes, but "inside the book" refers to the book as a physical object. Inside the book there is a pop-up cardboard pyramid. We wouldn't say "inside the book Tom and Huck get into trouble".
    – TimR
    Apr 22 at 10:26
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    @TimR: No, indeed we wouldn't, but we might say "inside it says XXX", like in the question. It's more likely to be used in an example like "On the cover it says XXX, but inside it says YYY", but I don't think how it's used in the question is definitely wrong...
    – psmears
    Apr 22 at 12:44
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    @TimR. I don't disagree with what you say - but in the question, it doesn't say "Inside, a character says [character's words]" - it says "Inside [the book], it says [quote from book]" - i.e. an impersonal, rather than referring to a character. That's perfectly idiomatic. (And, to be clear to OP, changing "inside" to "in" in the question, without making any other changes, would definitely make it unidiomatic!)
    – psmears
    Apr 22 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


We use the past tense in constructions with it's time.

We can use the expression it's (high) time + subject + past verb form to say it is time to do something now that should have been done a long time ago.

It's high time we went to bed.

It's time we took responsibility for our planet.

  • English is a strange language.
    – paddotk
    Apr 22 at 8:41
  • For what it's worth, although the references I consulted agree that only the past tense or to-infinitive are grammatical with "it's time," the present tense ("it's time you get...") also sounds perfectly natural to my and my family's (midwest Am.E.) ears. I suspect people may encounter this form even if it's proscribed.
    – TypeIA
    Apr 22 at 8:53
  • @TypeIA Both forms are grammatical and have their own nuance. It's time we get you some new sneakers. It's time we got you some new sneakers.
    – TimR
    Apr 22 at 13:33

When we say "It is time you {did something}" or "It is time we {did something}", we are making an exhortation, and such urging statements can be marked with a back-shift of tense (to past tense) to distinguish them from declarations of fact.


It's time we go. (a simple statement of fact)

It's time we went. (There is some urgency involved, even if it is only very slight. We should go.)

P.S. A parent could say to a child

It's time we take you to the doctor.

and that non-backshifted version could fit a situation where the intended meaning was "you're going to the doctor -- it's not open to discussion";

or the parent could say :

It's time we took you to the doctor.

and that utterance could fit a situation where the intended nuance was "We really must take you to the doctor. We've held off more than long enough to see that you're not getting any better."

  • 2
    I have never heard "It's time we go" used in Australia. "It's time to go" is common, or "it is time we went".
    – Peter
    Apr 21 at 14:07
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    @Peter I suspect that "it's time we go" is not very common in any variety of English. It's just a hypothetical sentence used to illustrate the difference. Apr 21 at 18:08
  • I've heard it just like that, but it's regional. Most often it would be something like "It's time we go to bed" or "It's time we go to work" or 'It's time we go to the police". You can use to the non-backshifted version to stress the reasonableness of the declaration, to present it as something that needs no debate.
    – TimR
    Apr 22 at 0:35

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