The word “sometime” references an unknown period of time or something that is ‘former.’ The phrase “some time” consists of two words to mean ‘quite a while’ or ‘a lot of time.’
What is the difference between “sometime” and “some time”?
“Sometime” and “some time” are commonly confused words (or expressions, rather) that use the same terms but have very different meanings. So what’s the diff?
The single word sometime means ‘at an unknown time’ (adverb) or ‘at some former time’ (adjective). English speakers use the adverb form of sometime similar to ‘sooner or later, ‘one of these days,’ or ‘some day,’ while the adjective implies how something is ‘past,’ ‘previous,’ or ‘former.’
In contrast, the phrase “some time” consists of two words and references an indefinite or long period of time. For instance, we may describe the occurrence of a past event as happening “some time ago,” but we might need “some time” to learn more.
Sometime vs some time = deja vu?
If the topic “sometime” vs. “some time” seems familiar, that’s because it’s identical to The Word Counter’s previous article on “someday vs. some day.” And just like our current topic, “someday” is an adjective or adverb, and “some day” is a phrase.
We see similar word vs. phrase issues with “something vs. some thing” or “someone vs. some one.” Essentially, anytime we use a vague determiner like “some,” there’s likely a single vs. double word expression that involves an unspecified quantity. Similar examples include:
What about sometimes?
The adverb “sometimes” is different from “sometime” and “some time” because it describes how something occurs ‘at times’ or ‘occasionally,’ but ‘not often.’ For example,
“Sometimes, we go to the store together.”
“My friend calls me sometimes.”
“Her sometimes-boyfriend has a funny personality.”
What does sometime mean?
The word “sometime” is an adverb that describes a future event that occurs at an unspecified time or point of time. Example sentences include,
“Let’s meet up sometime next week.”
“We spoke sometime last year.”
“I need to use Grammarly sometime today.”
According to Merriam-Webster, the adverb sometime can also mean “formerly” for ‘in the past’ or “occasionally,” as in ‘once in a while.’ However, these definitions are outdated in use and mainly applied to the adjective to mean “former” or “occasional” (or ‘occasionally’ for “sometimes”). For example,
“She is the sometime babysitter.” (occasional)
“As a sometime server, I sympathize with current working conditions.” (former)
Adjective: Bygone, erstwhile, extinct, expired, former, late, old, onetime, past, whilom.
Adverb: Eventually, finally, shortly, someday, soon, ultimately, yet.
Adjective: Contemporary, current, extant, ongoing, present, present-day.
Adverb: Never, nevermore.
What does some time mean?
The phrase “some time” is either an adverbial or a noun phrase that references an unspecified period of time. For example, we use the adverb phrase to mean ‘quite some time’ for expressions like,
“We met some time ago.”
“Some time has passed since our last visit.”
As a noun phrase, we pair the adjective some with the noun time to mean ‘an unspecified quantity of time.’ For example,
“We need some time to mourn.”
“Let’s set aside some time next year.”
“Let’s find some time to pick up trash.”
How to use some time vs. sometime vs. sometimes in a sentence?
To use “some time,” “sometime,” or “sometimes” in a sentence correctly, it’s essential to understand their specific word forms:
- Sometime (adjective): something that is ‘former’ or ‘occasional’.
- Sometime (adverb): ‘an indefinite future time’ or ‘an unknown point of time.’
- Sometimes (adverb): ‘at times’ or ‘occasionally.’
- Some time (noun phrase): an ‘unspecified quantity of time.’
- Some time (adverb phrase): ‘quite a long time.’
Example sentences from the press
“Prince Harry reportedly is dating a sometime actress, sometime model…” –– The Oregonian
“The sometime rapper appeared bareshirted and tatted up on Instagram.” –– BET
“Sometime earlier this year, one of the most elite social events in Washington took place…” –– AP News
“Lowy said oral arguments should be scheduled for sometime in April.” –– Boston Globe
“Sometimes, the in-crowd turns ugly.” –– The New York Times
“In the battle with creeping Charlie, sometimes the best answer is to give up.” –– Duluth News Tribune
Some time (noun phrase)
“It’s taken some time, but now all three networks have top comedy shows.” –– Los Angeles Times
“Bonilla has been talking to Republicans about a possible run for some time…” –– The Texas Tribune
Some time (adverb phrase)
“… City Council will take some time to ‘reset.’” –– Seattle Times
“Otherwise, we have some time to kill between now and midnight… “ –– Chicago Tribune
How to remember some time vs sometime?
The easiest way to remember the difference between “some time” and “sometime” is to associate their meanings with word count. The single word “sometime” references a particular moment or event, while “some time” means ‘much time’ or ‘quite a while’ (multiple years).
Think you’ve crushed the new word of the day? Challenge your English grammar skills with the following multiple-choice questions.
- The word _________ is an adverb of frequency.
b. Some time
- The word _________ references an unspecified point of time.
b. Some time
- The adjective meaning of sometime is not synonymous with _________.
- The adverbial phrase “some time” references _________.
a. An indefinite quantity of time
b. A long, indefinite time period
c. A frequency of time
d. A and C
- Choose the correct word: “We ordered from Amazon ____________ ago.”
a. Sometime (adjective)
b. Sometime (adverb)
c. Some time (adverb phrase)
d. Some time (noun phrase)
- “Some.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2020.
- “Sometimes.” Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2020.
- “Sometime.” Lexico, Oxford University Press, 2020.
- “Sometime.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 2020.
- “Sometimes.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, The Associated Press Stylebook, 2020.