Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes

Commonly Confused Words

Mae West
"Why don't you come up sometime and see me," Mae West said to Cary Grant in the movie She Done Him Wrong (1933). (GAB Archive/Getty Images)

The words sometime, some time, and sometimes are obviously related in meaning, but they're used in different ways.

Definitions

  • The adverb sometime (one word) means at an indefinite or unstated time in the future. As an adjective, sometime means occasional or former.
  • The expression some time (two words) means "a period of time."
  • The adverb sometimes (one word) means "occasionally, now and then."

Also see the usage note below.

Examples

  • "He's been talking to just about everybody and wants to talk to you sometime."
    (John Updike, Rabbit, Run. Knopf, 1960)
  • "Lynne was particularly disappointed because her sometime companion, George Archibald, was not paying much attention to her that evening."
    (Julian Scher, Until You Are Dead. Vintage Canada, 2001)
  • "You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others--something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it."
    (Albert Schweitzer)
  • "I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying."
    (Oscar Wilde)

Usage Note

"Of these three, sometimes is easy. It means 'now and again,' and it is always written as one word: My wife and I sometimes play Scrabble. The other two are more difficult, and usage varies. When some is unstressed, the form is some time: We'll need some time to consider this. When the sense is 'an indefinite length of time,' it is usual to write some time: She arrived some time after dinner. But some people write sometime here, and this style cannot be considered wrong. When the sense is 'at an indefinite time in the future,' sometime is usual: We'll talk about this sometime next week. But the adjective meaning 'occasional' or 'former' is always sometime: his sometime colleague."
(R.L. Trask, Say What You Mean! David R. Godine, 2005)

Practice

  1. "If [Fern] took her doll for a walk in the doll carriage, Wilbur followed along. _____ on these journeys Wilbur would get tired, and Fern would pick him up and put him in the carriage alongside the doll." (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper, 1952)
  2. "For _____ she lay back against the hood, wondering drowsily why she was so tired." (Flannery O'Connor, "Greenleaf." Everything That Rises Must Converge, 1956)
  1. "_____ during the night and at the height of the storm the telephone rings, a dreadful summons, and I find myself in the middle of the floor shaking like a leaf and wondering what is amiss." (Walker Percy, The Moviegoer. Knopf, 1961)

Answer Key

  1. "If [Fern] took her doll for a walk in the doll carriage, Wilbur followed along.​ Sometimes on these journeys Wilbur would get tired, and Fern would pick him up and put him in the carriage alongside the doll." (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Harper, 1952)
  2. "For some time she lay back against the hood, wondering drowsily why she was so tired." (Flannery O'Connor, "Greenleaf." Everything That Rises Must Converge, 1956)
  3. "Sometime during the night and at the height of the storm the telephone rings, a dreadful summons, and I find myself in the middle of the floor shaking like a leaf and wondering what is amiss." (Walker Percy, The Moviegoer, 1961)
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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes." ThoughtCo, Apr. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/sometime-some-time-and-sometimes-1692782. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 4). Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sometime-some-time-and-sometimes-1692782 Nordquist, Richard. "Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sometime-some-time-and-sometimes-1692782 (accessed December 13, 2017).