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Richard-Business Eng
Professional Teacher
Once you’ve used once once, you’ll probably use once more than once


1)  When the adverb once (answering the question “when?”) has the indefinite (non-specific) meaning 'at some time', we use it to talk about the past but not the future.

-  I met her once in Venezuela.   [I met her “at some time in the past”]
-  Once upon a time, there were three baby rabbits.  [at some time in the past, there were…]
-  I was a farmer once.
-  That country was once a powerful nation.


2)  To refer to an indefinite time in the future, we can use sometime or one day.

-  Come up and see me sometime.           [NOT… Come up and see me once.]
-  We must have a drink together one day.  [NOT… We must have a drink together once.]



Once can be used as a conjunction, meaning 'after', 'as soon as', ‘when’, or whenever’.
It often suggests that something is finished or completed.
It is most often used with a perfect tense.

-  Once you've passed your test, I'll let you drive my car.
-  I'd like to go for a walk once the rain's stopped.
-  Once he had found somewhere to live, he started looking for work.
-  Once you know how to ride a bike, you never forget it.

Note that we do not use that after once  [NOT… once that the rain's stopped.]



When once has the more precise meaning of ‘one time only’, a single time’, or 'one time (not twice or three times)', it can be used to talk about any time, including the future.

-  I'm only going to say this once.
-  Once is enough.
-  I’ll tell you once, but I’ll not tell you again.
-  I tried squid once, but I didn't like the taste.

Common Expressions

once and for all, conclusively; for the last time

once in a while, occasionally; now and then

once in a blue moon, occasionally, now and then, more very often

once or twice, once and again, a few times

once upon a time, used to begin fairy tales and children's stories

all at once, suddenly or without warning, simultaneously

at once, immediately, simultaneously


Once you have finished reading the explanations above, why not write a few sentences using the word once.
If you add "Please correct", I or some other good-hearted native English speaker or English learner will offer a correction.

Mar 8, 2018 3:40 PM
Comments · 13

TC Fatma...

That was a good example using once meaning suddenly, but the verb tense needs to be changed from the present perfect to the simple past tense.

All at once, the lecturer has stopped his speech.

We use the simple past tense because the action happened quickly and was completed/finished in the past.

Thank you for your good contribution to this discussion.


Once and for all,he shouted at all of us and went to his office with mumbling.

"Once and for all" is used when we mean "finally or for the last time".
But in your sentence, I think you want to say that 'he' did something suddenly, so we would use "all at once".

All at once he shouted at all of us and (or 'then') went to his office with mumbling [went to his office while doing something, e.g., he went to his office swearing, crying, mumbling, cursing] 

March 8, 2018
Once when I was going to work I slipped on banana peel

Once she opened the door the dog ran to her

She used to dream that once she finishes her education she becomes a translator

March 8, 2018
Once I used „twice“ thrice.
March 8, 2018
Please correct my attempt :)

I remember I had a grandmother who had been reading and explaining stories for us starting with 'Once upon a time'. She used to tell us the stories 'once or twice' every day in our childhood. But when we grew up, she was hesitant to do it that often. So we told her that it will be appreciated if she could do that 'once in a while'. She always told us lovely and thrilling stories but the frightening ones only once in a blue moon. One day, I remember, when we insisted her for a story while she was under the weather, she started to tell a heap of stories all at once in anger. And now, they all became just some lovely memories for us as she left us once and for all few years ago.

Thank you very much Richard. It's admirable to go through such discussions rather than certain questions and suggestions that help only fetch a number of comments or kick up some fusses. We, the learners are expecting only these kinds of lucrative attempts for putting in our spare time to practice the language.
March 8, 2018


Once when I was going to work I slipped on a banana peel

Once she opened the door the dog ran to her  PERFECT

She used to dream that once she finishes her education she becomes will become a translator
[we use will become because we are talking about a time in the future = once she finishes... = when she finishes]

Your examples and writing are good... well done Diana

March 9, 2018
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Richard-Business Eng
Language Skills
English, French
Learning Language