I have difficulty in using time and times correctly.

I understand that times may be used for some idiomatic purposes such as "at all times" or "of all times" or "some times", although sometimes it will be in singular, as in "all the time".

My concern is not really about the meanings of the particular idioms in my examples. Instead, I want to know if there is any general rule that I may refer to when I am deciding whether to use time or times, for an idiom, nouns, or likewise.

  • 1
    Without an article, time is a mass noun referring to the experience of duration: Time and space are dimensions; In time, you'll come to realize. With an article, time is a count noun referring to an individual event. The time we tore the goalpost down,What is the time now? At the same time; A time to remember. Apr 10, 2015 at 14:07
  • "Our times have passed." Sep 20, 2021 at 12:28

2 Answers 2

  1. How much time did you spend in Spain?

  2. He punched me three times.

In the first sentence time refers to the amount of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, decades, centuries, millennia and so on. This noun is uncountable.

In example (2) times refers to the number of occurrences. The number of instances that something happened. This is the same type of time as in "I asked her three times". That question doesn't mean, for example, I asked her for three hours! This noun is countable and usually used in the plural.


http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/time_1 and other dictionaries show clearly "uncountable" for some of the meanings


  1. Instances/Occasions, recorded values for durations, etc: times

  2. The abstract notion, and generally not 1: time

  • On the other hand, "You have to learn to change with the times" uses "times" in an abstract way—it means something like "prevailing worldview"—and yet the word is expressed in plural form.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 10, 2015 at 22:41

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