#30. I Need It Yesterday! – transcript

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And now for this week’s return episode.

A client called up the other day with a tough project. She had a strict deadline. I had a look at the project, and I knew it would take a few days to complete. So I asked *When exactly do you need it?* Wel, maybe you can guess what she said. She said, “I need it yesterday!”

I’m Paul Durant and this is three minute English – a podcast in English, about English for English learners.

“I need it yesterday?” What kind of answer is that? yesterday was yesterday. I can’t go back in time. Was it just a mistake? Maybe she forgot that it is already today?

Well, not exactly a mistake. We often use the idiom “I need it yesterday” to mean it is very urgent – even an emergency.

But shouldn’t she have said, “I needed it yesterday”? After all, that would be correct grammar. Yesterday is in the past, so we need a past tense verb, right?

Well, yes, of course, that’s right, but the idiom doesn’t use the past tense. We use the present tense, “I need it yesterday,” because that creates an impossible situation. It stresses the importance of getting the project immediately. It sounds like yesterday is a possibility, even though it is, of course, impossible! Since I know I can’t deliver it yesterday, I understand that you need it as soon as possible.

So remember to say “I need it yesterday,” not “I needed it yesterday,” when you need something completed immediately. Try this idiom next time you have an urgent project for someone else to take care of. See if you get some surprised looks. They’ll know what you mean and your English is going to sound better.

I’m Paul Durant. Thanks for listening to Three Minute English. Remember to contact me in the comments section or send me an email with your questions. and remember to go to the website and check the transcript for each episode. I’m glad to be back for another season of Three Minute English.

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