At the time vs at that time

  • You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I don't feel that the phrases are completely interchangeable. For example you say "At the time of Christ's birth". You don't say "At that time of Christ's birth". Also "At that time of year" not "at the time of year", unless you are going to continue the sentence as in "at the time of year he normally goes on holiday".
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Could you give example sentences in which you doubt their interchangeability?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It is difficult to comment on what actually happened 2000 years ago because at that time there were no video phones to capture images of the event.
    I don't think at the time would work in that sentence.
     

    moodywop

    Banned
    Italian - Italy
    Many thanks to you all for your replies. I realize now that I should have provided more context/examples as elroy has suggested.

    An American member in the Italian forum has just asked how to say "at the time" in Italian.

    We do have a word (allora) which can be used in all situations:

    (proprio allora - at that precise time) the police arrived

    (allora = back then? at the/that time? in those days?) I used to have long hair

    The film Gladiator is full of anachronisms. (Allora - At the/that time?) there were no.....

    However we also have words that can only be used in specific contexts so unless we are clear about the use of at the/that time we cannot be of much help to the forera who asked the question.

    Thanks
    Carlo
     

    marsius

    New Member
    Korean
    'At that time' is been using by Americans and 'At the time' is for British people.
    I've got a friend from Britain and he told me about it. He's never used at that time in his life.
     

    Lackswords

    New Member
    Chinese (Dialect: Cantonese)
    A friend wrote me "I found the album just now and reviewed the picture taken in 2009. He was very lovely….."

    I am curious and want to ask her "Did you find him lovely at the time? ...".

    Kindly advise whether it is 'at the time' or 'at that time' or both will work. It seems to me that as a specific time - 2009 - was mentioned, 'at the time' could be used.

    Thank you.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Your use of "at the time" is correct and very idiomatic.

    You are right: "at that time" would also work, but it wouldn't be quite as idiomatic, in my opinion.
     
    Last edited:

    Lackswords

    New Member
    Chinese (Dialect: Cantonese)
    Thank you. Just found the most probable meaning of 'idiomatic' here - "That's the way native speakers say it." :p

    And from there, I guess whether a specific time was mentioned is less crucial, i.e. I could also use 'at the time' even if my friend wrote "I ... reviewed the picture taken in the past ...".
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    "At the time" doesn't have to refer to a specific time, but it should refer to a time or time period that has been described in some fashion.
    I saw the picture when I was young. At the time, I didn't realize how lovely he was.
    Later we were going to become good friends, though I didn't know it at the time.​
    (It is not the topic of this thread, but usually we say we 'saw' or 'looked at' a picture. We say 'reviewed' when we mean that we evaluated a movie for other people. You could look up review in the dictionary to see whether that is the word you mean. If you have more questions about it, you should start another thread to ask.)
     

    SCotopaxi

    Member
    Spanish - Ecuador
    Hello,

    I have a question. Could I use "at the time" / "at that time" / "at this time" to refer to a future event?

    You can meet Mary next week. She will be in Madrid at the time. She will be in Madrid at that time. She will be in Madrid at this time.

    Thank you,
     

    Anshul Sharma

    New Member
    Hindi
    Hellow,

    I have a question. Could i use "at that time" instead "at the time" in the below sentence.

    This early 1980s incident made headlines "at the time"

    Thank you..
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hello, Anshul Sharma. :)

    Yes, 'at the time' is correct in your sentence. It suggests that the incident made headlines then, but it has not received as much attention since then.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I apologize for not having been clearer .

    I meant that people haven't talked about it very often since then.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    We use ''that time" when we are referring to a time that we have mentioned previously, often in a previous sentence.
    I don't think it would work in your sentence, but if you think it would, please give us your previous sentence.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    This early 1980s incident made headlines "at the time". (You have an ongoing discussion about some "time".)
    This early 1980s incident made headlines "at the time" that Alex Rodriguez was still a child. (A specific event.)

    perhaps
     

    Anshul Sharma

    New Member
    Hindi
    Is it correct if i say like this,

    Alex Rodriguez was still a child. This early 1980s made headlines "at the time".

    Thank you...
     

    Anshul Sharma

    New Member
    Hindi
    Thank you very much for making me so clear..

    So, if i need to complete my sentence it should be like this..

    This early 1980s incident made headlines "at that time". (If i hade no ongoing discussion).
     
    Last edited:

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    1)This early 1980s incident made headlines "at the time". (You have an ongoing discussion about some "time".)
    2)This early 1980s incident made headlines "at the time" that Alex Rodriguez was still a child. (A specific event.)

    perhaps
    I questioned the №1. I would use "that". This early 1980s incident made headlines at that time.
     
    Top