How many times have you heard someone attempt the phrase, “At this point in time,” only to get it wrong? Now’s the time to kill two birds with one stone.
There are two things I hope to accomplish with this little grammar post. The first is to clear up some apparent confusion about a particular phrase. The second is to persuade you to stop using it regardless of how well you know it.
First things first: let’s get it right.
I was looking at websites offering services related to blogging the other day, and I came upon one I was interested in, only to find an announcement that the service was being eliminated as of July 1st.
So much for that.
What jumped out at me on the announcement, though, was this sentence:
At this point of time the apps, the service, the plugins will cease to work.
Point of time?
Well, I hate to kick someone while they’re down, but even their farewell didn’t go well.
The phrase is at this point in time, meaning “at this particular moment.”
It’s one of those phrases we hear more than we see, and if you remember back to that little game we played in elementary school where a teacher would whisper something into the ear of a student, who’d then whisper the message to the next person in line, and so on, and so on, you’ll likely recall that when the message reached the last student, it was no longer anything near the same message.
Our hearing, while amazing biotechnology, is one of the least efficient ways to take in information. So even with the best of intentions, what we think we hear isn’t necessarily correct.
The announcement should have said:
At this point in time the apps, the service, the plugins will cease to work.
Oddly enough, that’s not the error I see most often: what I usually see is “at this point and time.”
But if the phrasing sounds correct to you, the redundancy should set you off. If “at this point and time” were right, you’d only need either, “at this point” or “at this time.”
Step two: Drop the phrase altogether.
Now that you know what the phrase is supposed to be, it’s time to ditch it.
There are some phrases that just seem to scream, “I’m trying to sound official!”
At this point in time is one of them. It is needlessly long.
Consider these examples and the alternatives:
“At this point in time, we are not accepting applications.”
“We are not currently accepting applications.”
“We are not able to release any new information at this point in time.”
“We are not able to release any new information.”
“At this point in time, the apps will no longer work.”
“The apps will no longer work as of that date.”
Dropping at this point in time in favor of shorter phrases, especially now when “now” is what you’re really trying to say, makes your writing shorter and more concise.
That makes it easier to read.
And that makes you more easily understood.
Why wouldn’t you want that?