on time / in time: what’s the difference?

What is the difference between on time and in time?

‘In time’ means to be at the edge of the specified time, with no spare time left.
‘On time’ means to be punctual, with spare time left.

To clarify that here are two examples:

I arrived just in time to catch the train. (So any later and you would have missed it).

I arrived at the station on time (So you had time to spare and spent some time actually waiting for the train).

In time is frequently used with the word ‘just’ as in our example above. See the British Corpus for more examples: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/

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About Robert D. E. Senior

Fully qualified and experienced Professional English teacher / trainer UK native speaker BA (hons, first class) Linguistics and TEFL 15 years experience in UK, Spain and Austria FCE - CAE - CPE - BEC V - BEC H - TOEFL - IELTS Business, Academic and General English
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