If you are describing the time at which something happened, or how long it will be before something will happen, it is important to be specific. However, there are times when you do not have enough information to be specific.
Luckily, English has words and phrases perfectly suited to this lack of certainty. Two of them, sometime and some time, are adverbs that many writers get confused. After you read this article, though, you will know which one is which, and what they mean.
What is the Difference Between Sometime and Some Time?
In this article, I will compare some time vs sometime. I will include sentence examples for each word to illustrate its proper meaning and use.
Plus, I will reveal a memory tool you can use to help you decide whether you mean sometime or some time.
When to Use Sometime
What does sometime mean? Sometime is an adverb. It refers to an unspecified point in the past or future.
- “Sometime next month, let’s tear down that old fence and put up a new one,” said Jane.
- “Sometime between now and whenever you decide to order the pizza, ask Marilyn what she would like on it,” Marvin said.
- “Sometime last night, a thief broke into the house and stole all of Mother’s fine silver,” said Jimbo.
- THE headline scrolled through the corner of my computer screen sometime after 10 on Friday night. Fidel Castro had died. It was news I’d been waiting to hear my entire life, and yet I hesitated. –The New York Times
Sometime can also function as an adjective, where it is a synonym of former, and often refers to an “on again, off again” situation, like it does in this sentence:
- John Frusciante, sometime guitar player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is a much more virtuosic player than any of his stand-ins.
Sometime should not be confused with sometimes, an adjective meaning often, but not always.
- Sometimes, Beth looks like Audrey Hepburn.
When to Use Some Time
What does some time mean? Some time is an adverb phrase that means quite a while. The sentences below demonstrate its proper use.
- Some time ago, Stanley baked the biggest wedding cake anyone had ever seen.
- It will be some time before the children will not be too scared to play in the hollow.
- It had been some time since anyone had cleaned out the sink.
- President Barack Obama said on Sunday that chaos in Syria could persist for “quite some time” and that Russian and Iranian support for President Bashar al-Assad’s air campaign had emboldened the Syrian leader’s crackdown on rebels. –Reuters
Of course, the words some and time could conceivably appear adjacent one another in a sentence without being an adverb phrase. In these instances, some is an adjective referring to an unspecified quantity, and time is a noun, referring to what a clock reads. Here is an example:
- The teacher gave his pupils some time to read the passage.
Phrases That Use Sometime, Some Time
Here are a few popular phrases using these words and how they should appear in writing.
Call me sometime: call me at an indefinite future time.
- Let’s hang out. Call me sometime.
Some time ago: quite a while ago.
- I can’t remember the last time I saw her. It was some time ago.
Trick to Remember the Difference
Sometime and some time can both be adverbs, but only sometime is also an adjective. Thus, if you are using the word as an adjective, sometime is the only choice.
You can easily see the difference between these two words by contrasting their two senses in sentences otherwise identical.
- Greg did not reach out until sometime later.
In this sentence, the exact time when Greg reached out is unknown.
- Greg did not reach out until some time later.
In this sentence, Greg waited a while before reaching out.
It is easy to remember that some time means a while since both of those phrases contain two words.
Is it sometime or some time? It is easy to confuse sometime and some time. They can both function as adverbs, and even though they are only differentiated by being spelled as one word or two, they are not interchangeable.
- Sometime means at an unspecified time.
- Some time means quite a while.
You can remember that some time means a while since these phrases both comprise two separate words.
If you find yourself in need of additional help, you can always check this article for a quick refresher.