Postpone is one of those controversial verbs that use myriad propositions based on context. Postpone to, Postpone for… till, until after, by, until later… sound quite simple and straightforward. But these propositions can change the meaning of the sentence and can lead to a disrupted timetable.
|Preposition||When to use||Example|
|No preposition||Just saying that something has been postponed without talking about when it has been postponed to||She was not feeling well today. So, we had to postpone the rehearsal.|
|Postpone To||The new date/time is fixed|
If you want to put something after something of greater importance
|Due to bad weather, all the classes have been postponed to Thursday.|
She had to postpone her desire to learn dancing to her career as a doctor.
|To keep something off until a later date. This includes dependency of the scheduled event on some other event. So, the scheduled event can’t happen until that other event has happened.||It was raining today. So, they have postponed the field visit until next Monday.|
|Postpone for||To imply the time period by which the event will be delayed |
(Here, we generally talk about the length of the time period)
|Trains are running late today. So, management has decided to postpone the meeting for 2 hours.|
|Postpone by||To imply the time period by which the event will be delayed |
(Usage similar to ‘for’. But here, we generally talk about a deadline or the end of a particular time period.)
|Trains are running late today. So, management has decided to postpone the meeting by 2 hours.|
|Postpone after||This doesn’t refer to |
The event which has been postponed
The new time that it will be conducted
This refers to
Why the event was postponed
|They postponed the second half after the heated agreement between the panelists, they|
The verb ‘Postpone’ means rescheduling of an event at a later time or date, not on the pre-decided date or time. The verb Postpone can be merged with different prepositions. Let’s look at them one by one.
Use ‘postpone’ with the preposition ‘to’ if you know when exactly the event is being rescheduled to.
“Due to bad weather, all the classes have been postponed to Thursday.”
This sentence means that the classes will take place on Thursday instead of today. Thursday is specific. The classes are not postponed to an indefinite date.
The preposition ‘to’ is also used when you want to put something after something of greater importance – in a list, a queue, or your priorities maybe.
“She had to postpone the appointment to another patient’s urgent surgery.”
“Due to bad weather, all the classes have been postponed for a few days.”
Replacing ‘for’ with ‘to’ changes the meaning of a sentence. Here, the sentence means that the classes won’t be held until the weather is good to go.
When we use ‘for’ with ‘postpone’ these are the kind of sentences we get:
“They will have to postpone the meeting for today.”
The sentence means that the meeting which had to happen today has been put off without any date or time specification.
“The CEO has asked to postpone the meeting for one hour.”
The sentence means that the conference which was taking place at the scheduled time will now be postponed for one hour.
Postpone for later
Postpone usage with later in a sentence will give sentences like:
“The dance competition has been postponed for later this month.”
The sentence means that the dance competition which was supposed to happen today or at the start of the month will now be conducted at the end of the month.
“The Conference has been postponed to a later date.”
The sentence means that the conference will not be held on the originally scheduled day, but we don’t yet know what the new date will be.
Postpone Till/ Until
Till/Until take us up to the point in time or the event that we are discussing. For example, “You can’t go till the evening” – That means you have to wait ‘up to’ the evening time and can go afterward.
Both till and until have the same meaning, hence combining them with postpone will have the same meaning.
“The weather has changed suddenly, so the match had to be postponed until the rain stops.”
“Jerry’s father has taken ill. So he had a flight postponed till his father recovers.”
“Can you postpone the picnic until/till next week?”
Interchanging until and till keeps the meaning intact in both sentences. In general when we use until or till with postpone it means to put off something for a reason. This means that something will occur if other things will happen.
Postpone Until After
When we use ‘after’ with ‘postpone until’ in a sentence, the sentence means that something has been delayed to some later date or time which will happen only after the completion of some other things.
Look at the examples:
“It’s wrong to say that exercising should be postponed until after testing.”
“The result distribution of students has been postponed until after the vacation.”
The sentences mean that the result will be distributed after the vacation.
Using postpone by in a sentence will indicate the time period for how long the event will be delayed.
“The flight was postponed by 2 days as it was raining heavily.”
“The play had to be postponed by a few hours, as the chief guest was stuck in traffic.”
“The meeting has been postponed by an hour.”
In all the examples, you can see that there is a certain time for how long the event has been put off.
Quotes that Demonstrate Correct Usage of “Postpone” in a Sentence:
- “Nobody felt sad as long as we could postpone tomorrow with more nostalgia.” — Stephen Chbosky
- “There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy.” — Niccolò Machiavelli
- “Never postpone until tomorrow what you can postpone until the day after.” — Raoul Wallenberg
- “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” — Jim Rohn
- “While we are postponing, life speeds by” — Seneca
- “You grow through love. You don’t postpone love until you stop growing.” — Caroline Kepnes
- “Postponing happiness until “all your ducks are in order” means never because life is not that clean, fair or predictable. It isn’t what happens to you that defines your life, it is what you do with it that does.” — Laura Schlessinger
Using Postpone correctly in a sentence can be a little intimidating. But, it is not difficult at all. Hope this article helped you clear that confusion once and for all!
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