I have a misunderstanding with one question. This phrase was said in the present moment, not about the past. That's why I'm confused.

"It's time we had a talk" I suppose there is the Present Perfect tense. (like "It has time we had to talk") but for me, if it's said in present it should be like "It is time have a talk"

Can someone explain that to me, please?

  • 2
    Interesting. It feels as if it must be a subjunctive. So I might similarly say: “It’s time we were introduced.”. My guess is that it is a subjunctive of purpose. But I shall have to ‘hit the books’ as they say. Incidentally, have you tried any research to find the answer?
    – Tuffy
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 8:38
  • Here is a similar question from English Language Learners Stack Exchange [ell.stackexchange.com/questions/49147/…
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 16:04
  • Related.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 0:06

3 Answers 3


This is an example of a past subjunctive being used to express unreality. At first look it doesn't seem like there's anything "unreal" in the sentence, but consider the difference between the following (from here):

It's time to go to bed

It's time you went to bed

The first expresses that bed time is right now, while the second implies that bedtime should already have happened. Because the sentence is not a simple statement of fact ("this is the time for us to talk") but a statement of obligation ("we should talk/should have talked by now"), the subjunctive is used. It's not necessary to phrase it this way - "It's time to have a talk" is equally grammatical - but the subjunctive construction conveys that extra implication.


had, an auxillary verb with 4 senses: the sense here is to undergo vocabulary.com sense #2

As in:

"It's time we (undergo/experience) a talk"


It's is short for either "it is" or "it has" and has been used for about 400 years. In your case it means "it is". However you have typed it without the apostrophe and with a space which is incorrect.

If you follow the link above to the Merriam Webster page "The tangled history of its and it's" you will be able to read a very good explanation of both "it's" (which is an abbreviation of "it is" or "it has") and "its" (which is the neuter possesive pronoun equivalent to "his", "hers" and "theirs". It also describes the differences between them.

  • 5
    The questioner is puzzled by the tense of ‘had’, not by “it’s’.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 8:32
  • it is past time for a talk, so let us do so.
    – lbf
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 13:45
  • This is correct, but ought to be a comment as it polishes the question yet doesn't answer it.
    – The Nate
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 18:49

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