It's time you go to bed vs. It's time you went to bed

I wonder if there is any difference between “1” and “2”.

  1. It’s time you go to bed.
  2. It’s time you went to bed.


There are really two constructions here. The first one should read: It’s time for you to go to bed. The second one should read: It’s time you went to bed = The time has come when you should go to bed. ‘Went’ here is used as a subjunctive.


So, what’s the difference master?

I see it this way

#1 ~ Right time for you to go to bed.
#2 ~ You are late. You should have gone to bed earlier.

Both sentences are grammatically correct and both use the subjunctive. Sentence 1 uses the present form of the subjunctive and sentence 2 uses the past form of the subjunctive.

Sentence 2 (with the structure “it’s time you went”) would be the far more commonly used sentence. People sometimes use the format in sentence 1 (“it’s time you go”) too, but it may tend to sound somewhat more demanding or insistent.

There are other types of sentences in which the present subjunctive would be much more common. For example: “It’s imperative that he be on time in the future. If he’s ever late again, he’ll be fired.”

[size=75]“Controversy is only dreaded by the advocates of error.” ~ Benjamin Rush[/size]

In the sentences presented,the construction :it’s time/it’s high time-is followed by S.+past subjunctive or by: FOR+Acusative+long infinitive and both constructions mean the same thing.So I can say here:It’s time for you to go to bed. or it’s time you went to bed.
I hope it helps.

Hi Antonella,
The past subjunctive form is the more commonly used subjunctive form after the phrase ‘It’s (high) time’. However, as I mentioned in my previous post, the present subjunctive is also sometimes used in combination with ‘It’s (high) time’, and that is also correct. Thus, both of the sentences Wowenglish posted are correct. However, the second sentence (with the past subjunctive) would be used quite a bit more often.

It is also true that you can reword the sentence so that it does not use either the past or the present the subjunctive (i.e. reword it using ‘for’ and the to-infinitive), but that was not what Wowenglish asked.
[size=75]“Parliament must not be told a direct untruth, but it’s quite possible to allow them to mislead themselves.” ~ Norman Tebbit[/size]