How to translate “termin” (time expression)

The Polish word “termin” can mean a period of time or a point in time.

In English, the word “term” can also mean a period of time or a point in time. But “term” has very specific uses (relating to e.g. school semesters, prison sentences, pregnancy etc.). As a result, in most circumstances “termin” cannot be translated as “term”.

“Termin” usually translates as “closing date”, “deadline”, “time limit”, “date”, “time”, “period” or “duration”, depending on context.

Some examples:

Termin składania wniosków upłynął kilka dni temu.

Mamy świadomość, że wyznaczyliśmy sobie napięty termin.

Może to uczynić przedłużając termin Programu gospodarki odpadami rolnymi.

Termin ważności produktu został podany w ulotce.

Termin ważności pozwolenia budowę

The closing date for the submission of applications passed a few days ago.

We are aware that we have set ourselves a tight deadline.

It can be done by extending the duration of the Agricultural Waste Management Programme.

The product’s expiry date is given in the leaflet.

Validity period of a building permit

Because of the different meanings of “termin”, you should also be careful how you translate the verbs that go with it, such as “ustalić” and “określić” and especially “upływać”.

Examples of how to translate “ustalić / określić termin”

Chciałbym ustalić termin naszego kolejnego spotkania.

Komisja może ustalić termin, w którym grupa powinna dostarczyć opinię lub sprawozdanie.

Proszę zadzwonić do Johna i ustalić termin.

Należy określić termin rozpoczęcia tego obowiązku.

Na każdym posiedzeniu Konferencji Stron należy określić termin i miejsce następnego posiedzenia.

I would like to schedule a date for our next meeting.

The Commission may set a deadline by which the group should deliver an opinion or report.

Please give John a call and arrange a time.

We must establish the starting date for these obligations.

Each sitting of the Conference of the Parties should determine the time and place of the next sitting.

 

How to translate “upływać termin”

Termin upływa w piątek. 

Sentences like this are often incorrectly translated as follows:

The deadline elapses on Friday.
The deadline expires on Friday
.

A deadline is a point in time, not a period of time. Only periods of time, or things that last or are valid for a period of time, can elapse or expire (or lapse, or end).

As they are points in time, deadlines and closing dates can only “be” or “pass”. And we usually use the verb “to be” with them:

The deadline is Friday.
The closing date is on Friday.

If you want to refer to the period of time in which a task must be finished or documentation submitted, you might translate the above sentence as follows:

We have until Friday.  i.e. We have the time between now and Friday to complete the task / submit the documents.

More examples:

Termin ważności leku upływa jeden dzień po podanej na etykiecie dacie odniesienia.

 

 

Termin złożenia naszej propozycji faktycznie upłynął kilka dni temu.

To uprawnienie obowiązuje do upływu terminu ważności prawa jazdy.

The medicine’s expiry date is one day after the reference date indicated on the label.
The medicine’s validity period expires one day after the reference date indicated on the label. 

The deadline for submitting our proposal passed a few days ago.

The right applies until the driving licence expires.

 

Some typical mistakes with “deadline”

WRONG
Please note that the deadline for delivery expires on 21 April 2018 at the latest.

RIGHT
Please note that the deadline for delivery is 21 April 2018.

WRONG
After the expiry of the deadline the Technical Arbitrator will not take into account any documents provided by the Parties.

RIGHT
After the deadline the Technical Arbitrator will not take into account any documents provided by the Parties.

WRONG
As the last day of this deadline falls on a Sunday (20 May), the last day of the deadline will be moved to Monday, 21 May. Following the lapse of this deadline the tender participants will not be able to challenge the outcome of the prequalification directly.

RIGHT
As this deadline falls on a Sunday (20 May), it will be moved to Monday, 21 May. After this deadline the tender participants will not be able to challenge the outcome of the prequalification directly.

 

More examples of how to use “deadline”

If we don’t get a move on we won’t make the deadline.

In order to meet the deadline we will have to divide the work between the three of us.

It’s too late now. We’ve missed the deadline.

 

How to use “time limit”

“Time limit” is used to refer to a period of time.

I have set my students a two-hour time limit to do the task.

The travel pass allows you to use the rail system as much as you like within a certain time limit.

But – we do not usually describe a time limit as starting, ending, expiring or lapsing.

WRONG
The time limit for the Borrower to rescind the agreement starts on the day the Borrower signs the agreement and lapses 14 days later.

Such sentences need to be reworded.

RIGHT
The Borrower may rescind the agreement within 14 days of signing.

Rewording sentences without using the phrase “time limit” is usually possible:

I have set my students two hours to do the task.

The travel pass allows you to use the rail system as much as you like within a certain limited period.

We can, however, talk about “extending” a time limit:

The six-month time limit will be automatically extended by this additional period.

 

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