I know that the meaning is this: There's not much time for the departure. My question is about the "Es ist" that means "There is" which should be rather "Es gibt". I haven't seen a grammar about this case before. There is also "Es sind" which have the same meaning as "Es gibt". Please explain to me this. I get confused really fast if I don't understand the whole sentence.


There is not much time left until the event of departure, the closure of the gate. "For" would imply that the departure process in itself might take too long, which is frequently the case when aircraft line up for departure but uninteresting for the passengers who try to make it for the gate in time.

"Geben" in conjunction with time is used when an action or a person prolongues a deadline, for example.

"Das gibt uns genug Zeit" - This gives us enough time

"Ich werde ihm noch ein paar Minuten geben" - I will give him a few minutes more

"Es gibt noch genug Zeit" for en event to happen might be grammatically valid and will be understood, but sounds unconventional, at least to me. I have no valid English translation to demonstrate that, maybe "It gives enough time" where one would rather say "There still is enough time". On the other hand, a proces can take time "dauern", and in German a person can "sich die Zeit nehmen" - free up the time.

Idiomatic are:

"Es ist noch genug Zeit" - There is enough time left

"Wir haben noch genug Zeit" - We have enough time

The plural "sind" is not used together with time because, like in English, time that denotes a point on time, a date or an event is a singular world. "Zeiten" as a plural is used in German similar to the English "times" when it comes to undefined time spans or periods. Plural is necessary then:

"In diesen Zeiten" - "In times of these"

"Es sind die Zeiten" - "These are the times"

"Dieser/jener Tage" - "These/those days"


First of all, your translation of the sentence is wrong. The meaning is:

There/it is not much time until departure.

Both in German and English, the words es, it or there are here only used as expletives. That is words, which are used to fill up a void, just to fulfil grammatical requirements, in this case for a subject in the sentence. For simpler usage, the exact same can be seen in sentences like:

  • It is raining.
  • It is spring.

Just as es in your German example it is not really referring to anything, the it in these sentences are also only used to complete the sentence, without adding any real meaning.

  • Whilst the "es" here is definitely expletive, I'm not sure that it's truly a subject. If you were to replace "viel Zeit" with "so viele Stunden", the "ist" becomes "sind" ("Es sind nicht mehr so viele Stunden bis zum Abflug"), indicating that the time reference is what is performing as the subject of "sein". – Ledda Mar 29 '20 at 17:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.