‘Matter’ vs. ‘question of time’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

The equivalent to the phrase “a matter/question of time” in most European languages is literally “a question of time”, e.g. una cuestión de tiempo in Spanish or eine Frage der Zeit in German. In English, both “a matter of time” and “a question of time” are acceptable; however, take a look at the following diagram showing how common the two phrases have been in literature throughout the years:

matter-of-time

As you can see, the phrase “a question of time” is slowly falling out of fashion. The difference is even more pronounced in connection with “just”, so you may want to say “it’s just a matter of time” instead of “it’s just a question of time” to sound more natural:

just-a-matter-of-time

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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