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The scenario is that you have been waiting for your daughter or wife that is visiting a friend of hers. Your son complains about them taking so long.

In this scenario I would say:

It's about time she came home

But then again this construction attracted my attention, and I would like to know whether it is correct or not.

It's about time she's come home

Edit: Incidentally: what about this construction: It's about time [to verb] as in:

It's about time to leave now.

Is it plain wrong?

P.S:

I think the construction is alright regardless of my example being awkward. I have found this by Robert Feder, The Chicago Sun-Times, 2007 via COCA:

We did the documentary about four years ago. It 's about time to go back and do a follow-up.

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  • Is this statement made before or after they get home? As written, "It's about time..." would usually be said after the fact.
    – user3169
    Oct 10, 2014 at 19:59
  • It's said when she had not come home yet
    – learner
    Oct 10, 2014 at 20:11
  • ...daughter or wife who.... their taking so long... Oct 10, 2014 at 21:34
  • 1
    Yes, "it's about time to leave" is fine. See COCA.
    – user230
    Oct 10, 2014 at 21:39
  • 2
    "It's about time to leave now." <== The "about time" and the "now" are clashing with each other. You would normally use one or the other: "It's about time to leave", or "It's time to leave now".
    – F.E.
    Oct 11, 2014 at 19:46

1 Answer 1

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Your initial instincts were better. It's about time she came home.

It is a subjunctive. But better would be

Yes, she should be home by now.

When your wife or daughter finally arrives, very late, then you would say:

It's about time she came home!

EDIT: You would exclaim the above only after wife|daughter had finally gotten home because it means The person has done what was expected of him or her (in this case, gotten home) but has taken a very long time to do it. Another example: diner at a restaurant waiting a very long time for the waiter to come over to his table. Waiter finally arrives. Diner says curtly:

It's about time you came over! or It's about time you waited on me!

The Sun-Times example We did the documentary about four years ago. It's about time to go back and do a follow-up. has an infinitive "to go" after "it's about time" whereas your sentence has a past-tense "came" (acting in a subjunctive role). The Sun-Times scenario is not an analogue for your situation.

The follow-up is due. Your wife|daughter is overdue.

If the documentary producer wanted to convey the idea that the follow up ought really to have been done long before now, that too much time has elapsed, he would say:

It's about time we went back and did a follow-up.

EDIT 2:

And to confuse things even further, intonation pattern can change the meaning.

It's about time she came home!

means she has not yet arrived and is long overdue.

It's about time she came home!

means she has finally arrived home.

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  • 1
    Look again. The OP asked two questions in one question; the second one is asking about “it’s about time” + infinitive (“It’s about time [to verb]), e.g., “It's about time to leave now.” Oct 10, 2014 at 23:33
  • He asked if it was "plain wrong". Not sure what my looking again would change. Then he goes on to justify his own use by referring to that quote. Oct 11, 2014 at 0:00
  • @TimRomano I'm sorry I didn't get why would I say that after she comes. Would that be sarcastic? If not could you explain it by paraphrasing it in a clearer language? on second thought, do you mean it means just "you're late"?
    – learner
    Oct 11, 2014 at 0:09
  • @Tim: We’re just having a little problem communicating. I interpreted your “The Sun-Times scenario is not an analogue for your situation.” statement as meaning, “The ‘It’s about time to go back’ example is irrelevant to your question, which is about past tense/subjunctive.” And so I thought that you had maybe overlooked the fact that he had asked a second question (“Is ‘It’s about time to leave now.’ plain wrong?”), and that he was using the Sun-Times quote to answer his own (second) question. Oct 11, 2014 at 2:15
  • Ah, plenty of opportunities for miscommunication on a website format. I will append a note to my answer to clarify. Oct 11, 2014 at 15:39

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