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We reached the station on time.

We reached the station in time.

I think first one means we reached at particular point of time when we are required to reach.

And second means we reached before the required time.

Am I right? Or is there any other difference or meaning? If so, Please explain to me. And please explain me the points of grammer related to this.

marked as duplicate by ColleenV, Nathan Tuggy, user3169, JavaLatte, Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Aug 7 '16 at 20:35

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"Required time" is a little vague, so I will not use those terms. I assume that you are traveling to a train station, not necessarily by train, to catch a train, for example.

on time
According to schedule; punctual or punctually.

I assume this is your schedule (it does not have to be). So, if you planned to arrive at the station at 9 am, and you arrived at 9, then you would be on time. The implication is that you planned to arrive at the station before your train departed.

in time
Before a time limit expires, early enough

There is generally an implied "for" or "event" when using in time. So, for example,

  1. We reached the station in time to catch the train.
  2. We reached the station in time for check-in.

So for example, you plan to arrive at the station by 9am to catch the 11am train. The traffic was awful, but you finally arrived at 10:30am and barely caught the 11am train. You were not on time (with respect to you schedule) but you were in time to catch the train.

I believe this is a matter of idiomatic use and not so much grammar. The difference has also been discussed on ELU: “In time” versus “on time”.


The simple difference:

on time refers only to scheduled things.

in time can refer either to scheduled or unscheduled things

On time means "punctual".

In time means "not too late".

He was on time for the scheduled interview.

He arrived in time to extinguish the fire before it spread.

He arrived in time to catch the last train.

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