Can we use "it's about time" for a sarcastic answers

Like if someone says to me "I think I should return your book back now" and the person who said this to me should have returned my book way earlier and I am quite annoyed with him now. So can I reply him "it's about time" as an sarcastic reply?


1 Answer 1


"It's about time" is very commonly used to indicate something is past due:

(it is) past the time when something should have happened: It’s about time she got a job.

It's mildly sarcastic, because the other meaning is that it's the proper time:

Long past the right time; also, approximately the right time.

If I say to my family, "Finish up whatever you're doing; it's about time for dinner," there's no sarcasm implied. If my family says to me, "When are we eating? Isn't it about (or around) dinnertime?" That isn't sarcastic.

If my family says to me, "It's about time you serve (or served) us dinner!", that is sarcastic, and I might invite them to try cooking their next meal themselves.

Note that "it's about time" is often followed by the past tense:

  • It's about time that our country invested in education.
  • Enough of this guy, it's about time he stopped this nonsense.
  • Thanks anongoodnurse for your answer but my question was can I say " it's about time " as a sarcastic response in the example given in my question . and by "it's about time " I mean just ' it's about time ' as 3 word response ,nathing after ' it's about time' Commented May 6, 2016 at 14:50
  • @RaunitSingh - Sorry, I thought it was clear from the answer (see the first and the third sentences). Yes, "It's about time" used as a stand alone comment is fine, and adequately sarcastic. The additional words are just examples of specific cases. Commented May 6, 2016 at 15:08

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