From time to time: when do you use it?

It’s such a familiar phrase, from time to time, but do you know when to use it? And do you know when it is unnecessary? If you think about it, you probably do. Let me discuss a few aspects in this blog post…

From time to time means[1]:

Occasionally

Once in a while; occasionally

Once in a while; at intervals

If you do something from time to time, you do it occasionally, but not very often

Despite this meaning, the phrase from time to time is used slightly differently and in several contexts. First of all, it clarifies that an action is required or permitted more than once:

Customer may from time to time require Service Provider to provide it with a certificate of insurance.

Without the suffix from time to time, Customer may demand this cer­tificate only once. The phrase permits Customer to request the certificate as many times as it likes. A second use of from time to time serves to clarify that the subject referred to may change after the agreement enters into force:

If Supplier desires to amend the Statement of Work, it shall notify Customer of all proposed amendments in accordance with Customer’s engineering change (EC) procedure from time to time.

Chairman means the chairman of the Non-Executive Board from time to time.

The examples bring aspects that may influence the object that is modified by the phrase from time to time outside the immediate scope of the provision. How and when the Chairman is appointed should be addressed elsewhere; it is clear who is referred to. Similarly, although a change in the engineering change procedure might well affect the possibility of amending the Statement of Work (or even render such amendment illusory), such change is outside the scope of this amendment provision.

[1]      From various sources, including: Oxford English Dictionary; Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s dictionary; thefreedictionary.com; Englishclub.com.

Related Articles

Terms of Use

I hereby accept (or reconfirm my acceptance of) Weagree’ Terms of use, in which: