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American English: It is (high) time (that)


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American English: It is (high) time (that) #1 (permalink) Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:40 am   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

1. It is (high) time (that) I went now.

2. It is (high) time (that) I should go now.

3. It is (high) time (that) I go now.

Are the above sentences acceptable in American English?
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[American English] It is (high) time (that) #2 (permalink) Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:48 am   [American English] It is (high) time (that)
 

Hi,

I wouldn't know about the American English part of your question since I'm from the UK but for me the only acceptable sentence is number (1).

Alan
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[American English] It is (high) time (that) #3 (permalink) Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:09 am   [American English] It is (high) time (that)
 

.
Me too (and mine is AmE) -- only the hypothetical past as in #1. Note that the subjunctive is not used with this fixed phrase, either: It's high time I was / (X) were going.
.
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[American English] It is (high) time (that) #4 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 6:46 am   [American English] It is (high) time (that)
 

Alan wrote:
Hi,

I wouldn't know about the American English part of your question since I'm from the UK but for me the only acceptable sentence is number (1).

Alan

What's the difference in meaning between "I wouldn't know" and "I don't know"?
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #5 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 12:19 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

I am American, and here are my rankings:

1. It is (high) time (that) I went now.
Possible, but it sounds like uneducated speech. Many people who have no command of the subjunctive would say it.

2. It is (high) time (that) I should go now.
Impossible. Nobody would say it.

3. It is (high) time (that) I go now.
The most correct of the three. "Go" is in the subjunctive, and not in the present tense.
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #6 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 13:22 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

.
I think my command of the subjunctive--and Random House's, and American Heritage's-- is about as good as anyone's, Jamie.

high time (noun)

the appropriate time or past the appropriate time: It's high time he got out of bed. It's high time we did something about Martha's dog, or It's high time you children were in bed. It's high time that we solved this problem.


(And if #3 is not in the present tense, what tense could it be?)
.
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #7 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 13:32 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

#3 is the so-called present subjunctive.
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #8 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 13:35 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

Mister Micawber wrote:
(And if #3 is not in the present tense, what tense could it be?)

"It is important that they arrive on time."
That looks like the present tense, but...

"It is important that he arrive on time."
Oops! Evidently it's not the present tense.

Look at the difference:

"It is important that he arrives on time." [present tense]
= He arrives on time, and that is important.

"It is important that he arrive on time." [some kind of subjunctive]
= He had better arrive on time.
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #9 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 13:40 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

.
Still present tense, whether hypothetical or not. All of those sentences are what is called the timeless present (not quite an 'eternal truth', but a close relation). No matter when he/they arrive-- today or tomorrow-- it is important. And they all use the present tense of the verb, either indicative or subjunctive mood.
.
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #10 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 13:43 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

Sentences using the subjunctive mood are not in the present tense. They have no tense.
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #11 (permalink) Thu May 28, 2009 14:53 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

If I were you --- past subjunctive
If it be fine -- present subjunctive
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #12 (permalink) Fri May 29, 2009 3:26 am   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

Hello Sitifan,

I would expect the majority of Americans to use "went" in your particular sentence:
"It's high time I went."

Even though I believe people in the US are more likely use the the past rather than the present subjunctive after "it's high time", people very definitely do also use the present subjunctive. So, I would agree with Jamie that the present subjunctive is used this way on the American side of the pond, however I disagree that using the past form of the verb with "it's high time" sounds uneducated.

There are examples of both in the American Corpus. Here are a few that use the present subjunctive:

- I think it 's high time that the Democratic leadership heed the call of the American people...

- I think it's high time we try to do this.

- Well, honey, we think it's high time you ditch those jitters and hop aboard your favorite bronco.

- I think it is high time that he be tried for his crimes.

- It is high time they be asked to serve in determining accountability of the program for which they have been an integral part.

- It is high time that American consumers be able to choose their local exchange service provider.
.
.


I also took a look at the British National Corpus while I was at it, but could not find any present subjunctive usage with "it's high time".

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American English: It is (high) time (that) #13 (permalink) Fri May 29, 2009 5:13 am   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

1. It is (high) time (that) I went now. [universally acceptable, current English]
2. It is (high) time (that) I should go now. [old-fashioned, British English]
3. It is (high) time (that) I go now. [old-fashioned, American English]
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #14 (permalink) Fri May 29, 2009 21:43 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

Jamie wrote:
1. It is (high) time (that) I went now.
Possible, but it sounds like uneducated speech.

Hi Jamie

I noticed that three native speakers were comfortable with the given sentence. Please tell me why you think it sounds like uneducated speech.

Tom

PS: By the way, is "that" optional in the given sentences?
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American English: It is (high) time (that) #15 (permalink) Fri May 29, 2009 21:45 pm   American English: It is (high) time (that)
 

I hope you will find it interesting.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/it's+high+time

Hi MM

Could you please shed some light on this sentence? I took it from the link above.

Quote:
It's high time we were leaving...

Thanks

Tom
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