"Create time" and "Gain time"
Thread poster: Oliver Walter

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:52
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 25, 2009

(This belongs in the English language forum but as far as I can see, there isn't one, so this is the nearest)

I wrote "This will create some time in which to consider sensible energy-policy actions" in a translation from German (The source text said "Dadurch wird Zeit gewonnen..." literally "This way, time will be won...").
The client (who is also fluent in French and fairly good in English) thought that time cannot be created and I should perhaps have written "This will gain some time...".

On searching in the Web and considering what "create time" and "gain time" mean to me, I decided the following and I wonder what other native English users think:
"create time" means to reorganise things so that time becomes available for something although previously you thought achieving this was impossible or at least unlikely.
"gain time" means more or less the same except that it didn't seem unlikely or impossible - you just hadn't done it.
In French, you can "créer de l'espace" (create space) or "gagner du temps" (gain time) but you can't "créer du temps" (create time).

Any views on this?



Peter Manda (X)
Local time: 20:52
German to English
+ ...
"créer du temps" Jan 25, 2009

In the international manufacturing contexts, executives always seek to "créer du temps" (create time). I believe this Redewendung has a lot to do with the cyclical nature of the manufacturing process, where an incremental change will have a positive effect/affect on the time to market (a process improvement thus "créant du temps" (creating time)).

[Edited at 2009-01-25 01:07 GMT]


Local time: 20:52
Spanish to English
Try "win" Jan 25, 2009

How about "win some time"? This is often used in legal, military and other "contest" contexts, where more time is sought in order to do something better.
"By filing this motion, we'll be able to win some time to line up expert witnesses."
"By leaving Nicholas Cage and his Windtalkers out there unsupported, we'll win some time to bring up Nick Nolte and the Big Red One."


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:52
German to Serbian
+ ...
The client is projecting Jan 25, 2009


You are a ( qualified) native English speaker, so if you say that " create time" sounds natural in English, I should certainly trust you.

Your client is projecting from French. Perhaps she or he doesn't realize that collocations are different in different languages ( although sometimes equal, but not always), and if something doesn't work in French, it can work in English, and vice versa.

This is so typical that people are copying language patterns from their mother tongue. Trust me, I've seen too much of this.

I have no idea how you will convince them, though. You may tell them it's English you are dealing with, and in English you can "create time. "

Good luck.


Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:52
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
My real question Jan 25, 2009

RichardDeegan wrote:
How about "win some time"?

Yes, that's another possibility. My real question, however, was not how to translate that bit of text but to see what you think is the difference between "create some time" and "gain some time".


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 18:52
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Minimal difference Jan 25, 2009

I think the difference is minimal and many people would use the two terms interchangeably. But if you want a difference, I think that creating time, as you suggest, would mean re-organizing things to create time that was thought not to be available for an additional activity. Gaining time to me implies speeding things up or leaving things out in order to make the available time longer (which could then also be used for an additional activity).

I think 'win' is a nice compromise if the client is happier with that.

For future reference: you could have posted this as an English to English Kudoz question.

[Edited at 2009-01-25 16:48 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-01-25 16:49 GMT]


Evangelia Mouma  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:52
English to Greek
+ ...
create vs gain Jan 25, 2009


I am not a native speaker but here is how I understand the difference between "create time" and "gain time":
"Create time" means that you try to do some things in order to have more time available to do something. According to an example I found in the Web: "How to create time for painting" means what to do in your every day life to save some time for painting, e.g. keep your brushes in one place so as not to waste time looking for them etc. So, for example, it usually takes you one hour to do something but you moved more quickly and you finished it in half an hour and so you created half an hour time to do something else.

"Gain time" means 1) to deliberately do something in order to give yourself more time to think (Longman dictionary), 2) To delay or prolong something until a desired event occurs (freedictionary). An example is: I asked for a glass of water instead of the brandy, trying to gain time.

The difference is, I believe, that in the first case you try to find some time but in the second you play a trick in order to find time. In the second case you are in a difficult position, you have to do something immediately and you are trying to delay it in a way.
In your case, the best solution, I think, is "create time" unless they had to consider these actions but they didn't so they are trying to prolong time a bit. Which is what you are saying actually.

Hope I helped a bit


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:52
Turkish to English
+ ...
It depends on the subject Jan 26, 2009

This depends on the subject of the sentence.
"Gain time" requires an animate subject, as in "We will gain some time to ...", whereas the subject of "create time" has to be inanimate and will be a circumstance that permits somebody to gain time.
In short you are right and the client is wrong (in my opinion).


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"Create time" and "Gain time"

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