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My teacher said today that it's incorrect to say "I need more time" in English. She said it is used widely but it is a slang. I don't agree with that as I encountered it often in English books, but after some searching in Google I didn't find confirmation or denial of this.

Could you help me, please?

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Quite frankly, your teacher should look up slang in a dictionary of her choice. Calling this slang is like calling it a Doberman. Utter nonsense. – RegDwigнt Dec 4 '12 at 9:58
I'd love to answer this, but I don't have enough time. If I had more time, maybe I could elaborate. But I don't find anything wrong or "incorrect" with the phrase. – J.R. Dec 4 '12 at 9:58
Okay, I'll bite. What'd she say was "the correct expression". I'll fourth the opinion that there's absolutely nothing slangy about I need more time. Does your teacher think that it should be something like "I need a chronic extension" or that it should be a plea instead of a declaration, eg, "Do you think that you can allow me three additional days to finish my homework?"? – user21497 Dec 4 '12 at 10:12
Was it your gym teacher? – Urbycoz Dec 4 '12 at 11:54
It's clearly grammatical and not slang...but I'd love to hear what your teacher preferred as the alternative. – Chris Dec 4 '12 at 17:01
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I need more time is perfectly grammatical and there is nothing about it to be considered as slang. Your teacher might have meant that it sounds too informal in certain contexts and you should clarify with her.

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It's (probably) not very polite either: that may be what was meant. – TimLymington Dec 4 '12 at 17:30

I suspect your teacher objects to the concept of "needing more time" for technical reasons.

Saying you need time, implies that you can be in possession of time as if it is a physical thing (e.g. "I need more beans"). But time is not physical, so can never truely be possessed.

For that reason, she considers it to be slang.

In my opinion, this reasoning is false, since slang is not defined as such.

Here is wikipedia's definition:

Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered acceptable in certain social settings. Slang expressions may act as euphemisms and may be used as a means of identifying with one's peers.

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In my opinion, that reasoning is false, but not just because of the definition of slang. NOAD says need means require (something) because it is essential or very important, then gives these examples: "I need help now," and "I don't need your sarcasm." But help and sarcasm aren't any more physical than time. Saying "I need more time" implies that time is important, and I require more of it – which is often the case – but it most certainly does not imply I can put that time in my pocket or in a bowl. – J.R. Dec 4 '12 at 10:46
I keep time in a bottle. And I have a box just for wishes and dreams that have never come true. I may write a song about it. – Jay Dec 4 '12 at 16:07
I disagree with your 'technical' reason'. We routinely speak as though we are in possession of time. E.g. "I have plenty of time" – chasly from UK Jul 7 '15 at 15:53
I also disagree with my "technical reason". That's the point I'm making. – Urbycoz Jul 8 '15 at 8:49

The sentence is completely literal. Time can be measured: we routinely talk about two days or 4 1/2 hours or whatever. So it's perfectly reasonable to talk about "more time": 3 hours is more time than 2 hours. "Need" means that you require something. If there are two hours available to accomplish a certain task but it will take me three hours to get it done, then "I need more time". "I", "need", "more", and "time" are all commonly-used English words. I don't see any hint of slang here. It's a straightforward, literal statement.

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