Should I say:

I do not have the time.


I do not have time.

Which option is the correct one? If both are correct, is there any difference in meaning or other difference between them?

5 Answers 5


Both are fine and seem to be widely used. To me, "don't have the time" implies a long-term situation, whereas "don't have time" could be more temporary. For example, "My life is so busy that I don't have the time to cook" versus "Tonight I'm going to a concert so I won't have time to cook."


They are both correct, and equally implied.

I don't have the time [it takes] to cook.


I don't have [enough] time to cook.

Both imply that you do not possess the amount of time it would take to complete the act of cooking.


The article 'the' is used to emphasize specificity.

By saying, 'you don't have time to cook', it means you don't have time in an indefinite essence; and, by saying, 'you don't have the time', it means you don't have time in a specific period (in this case, during the time you said that you don't have ['the time']).

  • 1
    This seems backwards from the actual usage, where "the time" is more often associated with a long term situation, as David points out. (This lines up with my experience.) Though neither way is anywhere near an absolute.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:10
  • I explained based on the sound grammar usage of the article 'the'. I did not associate my answer to either short-term or long-term situation. By saying 'indefinite' and 'definite', I simply meant that there is an implied time-frame relative to the context the speaker is in. And yes, you are correct - there is no 'absolute', unless we know the context.
    – shin
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 5:28

"don't have the time to do x" communicates something that's part of your personality, or a deep set habit. It doesn't refer to any specific situation. People say that when they want to say something about the kind of person they are. It says I consider act x of less important I don't want to bother myself with it.

"don't have time to do x" on the other hand, is very specific to a situation you are currently having. It says "Right now I am too busy with other stuff". It doesn't say anything about what kind of person you are and what habits you have.


have time or not have time can be treated like any other verb, it means at that moment I am (or will be) busy with other things.

I don't have time to go there

A: Will you watch TV, B: No I don't have time, I must finish my homework.

However, if you say

I don't have the time to cook, I usually eat fast foods

You mean that you don't have the time it takes to do a certain job or you don't like to do it, for example

I don't have the time to answer basic questions. Sorry, but I need to focus on more important questions.

If you don't have the time to cook rice on normal kadai, you can pressure cook also, but it wont be that tasty.

You don't say I don't have the time except to mean I don't know what time it is.


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