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How should I decide between "sometime back" and "sometimes back"?

Sometime back I received a call from Mr. X

Sometimes back I received a call from Mr. X

Which sentence is correct?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

'Sometime' refers to a single instance, which fits with the single telephone call.

'Sometimes' refers to a number of instances, in which case you would need to refer to more than one call, but you wouldn't use 'sometimes back'.

You have a typo and a missing article. The 1st phrase should be 'Sometime back I received a call from Mr X'.

You can also use 'A while ago' - 'One day/night'.

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It may be that OP actually wants Some time back. –  TimLymington Feb 7 at 11:34

For your example the best choice would be

Some time ago I received a call from Mr.X.

Sometime refers to a moment of time, not a period, so saying sometime back is equivalent to something like Last year back or On my birthday back. Back is more correctly used with when or in:

  • Back in 90's we would never think about that.
  • Back when we didn't know each other, ...
  • Back in the day, ... (this one is more idiomatic, meaning at a previous time with some other circumstances)

Sometime can be correctly used to express some important (for the 1st self) things that happened or will happen.

  • He will be coming sometime between 6 and 9.
  • The bank was robbed sometime last week.

It can also be used as an adjective meaning happening previously, but not now:

  • The sometime renowned director is now asking for a new job.

And finally, always remember that there are three different versions:

  • Sometimes = occasionally, from time to time
  • Sometime = at a certain time, or moment
  • Some time = a period of time, a while
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