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Is It Correct to Say “Day Well Spent”?

The English language is a rich and wide-ranging one, full of phrases and idioms that can offer interest and variety to your everyday speech. Phrases such as “day well spent” can be confusing at times, though, because of pronunciation and understanding the phrase’s meaning.  

The correct way to say the phrase is “day well spent.” When we say “day well spent,” we mean that the time was worthwhile or that we used it well during the day. The phrase is best used at the end of the day. We use “well spent” as an adjective derived from the adverb “well” and the adjective “spent,” meaning to use up. Some similar phrases include “time well spent” or “money well spent.” 

In this article, we’ll be learning more about the phrase “day well spent,” some similar phrases, and how to use them in conversation. 

What Does a Day Well Spent Mean?

“A day well spent” is an idiom referring to using your time in a worthwhile way. It’s something we might say at the end of the day as a reflection on the quality of the day (source). 

The phrase “a day well spent” conveys satisfaction with your activities and pursuits throughout the day. It tells the listener that you feel the things you did during the day were meaningful, worthwhile, or fun and that you are glad you dedicated your time to those activities (source). 

How Do You Use a Day Well Spent?

We use “a day well spent” at the end of a sentence or conversation. It can function as a transition phrase to indicate the end of a conversation about the day’s activities or a way to summarize your activities to a listener.

The phrase “a day well spent” centers on the idea that time is valuable, similar to money. We spend money, and some things are worth more money than other things. Similarly, we can “spend” time, and some activities will be better uses of our time than others.

When Can You Use a Day Well Spent?

Typically, you would say “a day well spent” at the end of the day to summarize that day’s activities.

  • I had fun today. It was a day well spent. 

However, you can also use it to talk about a day in the past. 

  • We were at the water park all day yesterday. It was a day well spent. 

In some cases, you can also use the phrase to speak about an anticipated eventful day in the future. This is a less common way of using the phrase, but it is still technically correct. 

  • Next week we are driving to New York to see the Rockettes. It will be a day well spent. 

You can also use “a day well spent” to discuss the importance of using your time well.

  • A day with friends is a day well spent.

In What Context Can You Use a Day Well Spent?

It’s important to note that we typically use the phrase “a day well spent” to refer to events or activities that take up a large portion of the day. It is not correct to use the phrase to refer to events or activities that were very short — like a couple of hours — unless you attended several of those activities in the day. 

Remember that the idea of “spending” time is somewhat metaphorically comparing time and money. The phrase implies that the activity took up a lot of your time, i.e., you “spent” many hours on the activity.

If you found the activities to be good uses of your time, even though they were long, then you “spent” your time well. 

It’s best to use the phrase when referring to a somewhat long day but filled with enjoyable or valuable activities.

Using “A Day Well Spent” in a Full Sentence

There are two main ways to construct a sentence using “a day well spent.” The first and more common way is actively describing a day that you experienced recently or anticipate experiencing in the future. The second and less common way talks about the idea of a day well spent.

When we use “a day well spent” in this context, typically, we precede the phrase with a brief account of the day’s events in a separate sentence. Then, the following sentence begins with a gender-neutral pronoun, the verb “to be,” and “a day well spent.”

Let’s look at some examples broken down. 

  • I was at grandma’s all day today. It was a day well spent. 

We begin with our descriptive phrase: “I was at grandma’s all day today.” Now we know what the speaker did all day. 

Our next sentence begins with the pronoun “it.” In this case, “it” refers to the day at grandma’s. 

Next, we have our verb “to be.” In this case, we have a singular day in the past, so we use the simple past “was.” 

Finally, we have our phrase: “a day well spent.” 

The following are a few more examples with this same formula. 

Descriptive PhrasePronounVerb “to be”Phrase “a day well spent”
Yesterday we were at the water park all day. Thatwasa day well spent. 
I was all the library all day todayIt was  a day well spent.
When I was a kid, I spent my days at the beach. Those were days well spent.
I would ride my bike for hours every summer.They were days well spent. 
I cannot wait to go to the zoo.It will bea day well spent. 

The Idea of a Day Well Spent in a Sentence 

Another less common way of using the phrase is to talk more conceptually about the importance of not wasting one’s time or the value of using your time well. Da Vinci has a famous quote that exemplifies this usage well: 

As a day well spent procures a happy sleep, so a life well spent procures a happy death.

In this quote, Da Vinci talks about the importance of using the time you have on earth well and the peace it will bring to you when you are old and ready to die. He compares it to the value of spending a day well and the restful sleep it can bring you.

This version does not follow as strict of a format the way the previous way does. Below, we’ve listed a few more examples of ways you can talk about spending a day well.

  • A day with friends is always a day well spent. 
  • When a day is spent on self-betterment, it is a day well spent. 
  • Money spent will not guarantee a day well spent. 
  • A day well spent always includes writing. 

Day Off Well Spent” Meaning 

When we say “a day off well spent,” we mean that we had a day off from work, a holiday, or a vacation and feel that the activities of the day were valuable and worth the use of our time. 

Is it Correct to Say Day Off Well Spent? 

“A day off well spent” is not a common way of saying the phrase. However, it is not technically incorrect. Therefore, we can use the phrase the same way as the previous examples.

Image by haengematteORG via Pixabay

More commonly, you would just say “a day well spent” even when referring to a day off. This is because you will typically need to indicate in the previous sentence that the day you speak of was a day off. This makes the “day off” part redundant in the phrase “day off well spent.”

  • I watched movies on my day off. It was a day off well spent. 
  • I watched movies on my day off. It was a day well spent. 

Both phrases are grammatically and technically correct, but the second phrase is more natural sounding. 

Is It “a Day Well Spent” or “a Day Well Spend”?

The phrase “day well spend” is grammatically incorrect and does not sound correct to English speakers. 

“Well spent” can be a confusing phrase in part because of the word “spent,” which is often a verb. 

continuousHe was spending too much moneyHe is spending too much moneyHe will be spending money tomorrow
simpleHe spent too much moneyHe spends too much moneyHe will spend too much money this week
Perfect simpleHe had spent too much moneyHe has spent too much money this yearHe will have spent too much money this year
Perfect continuousHe had been spending too much moneyHe has been spending too much money He will have been spending too much money 

However, “well spent” is a postpositive adjective (an adjective that follows a noun), not a verb. Therefore, the words “well spent” will not change no matter which tense you use it in. Instead, the verb you use with it will change (typically, “to be”).

SimpleIt was a day well spentIt is a day well spentIt will be a day well spent
Perfect continuousIt had been a day well spentIt has been a day well spentIt will have been a day well spent

When to Use “Well Spent” vs. “Well-Spent”

Sometimes you might see “well spent” written as “well-spent.” In most cases, these two ways of writing the phrase are interchangeable, especially by casual writers. However, there is a technical rule that you can use to tell you when it is correct to write it with or without a hyphen. 

We hyphenate it when we use “well-spent” immediately before a noun. However, when we use “well spent” immediately after a noun, we do not hyphenate (source). 

The next examples demonstrate when to hyphenate or not hyphenate.

Noun FirstNoun After
Day well spentWell-spent day 
Time well spentWell-spent time
Money well spentWell-spent money 
Energy well spentWell-spent energy

Whenever the noun precedes the phrase “well spent,” no hyphen is necessary.

To learn more about when to hyphenate or not in phrases, check out our article “High Quality or High-Quality: Understanding When to Use a Hyphen.”

When Not to Use a Day Well Spent

We’ve spent significant time in this article going over the finer details of the phrase “well spent” and how to use it. But is it always the best phrase to use?

It generally doesn’t make sense to use the phrase “day well spent” if the activity you engaged in was short or didn’t take up a lot of your time or energy. It is also inappropriate to use if the activity was effortless to do.

What Can You Use Instead of a Day Well Spent?

Maybe you don’t want to use the phrase “day well spent,” or maybe you would just like to practice some other phrases to expand your vocabulary. Here are various other phrases you could use instead of “day well spent.” 

  • It was a worthwhile day 
  • It was a good day 
  • It was a long day 
  • It was a hectic day
  • It was an eventful day
  • It was a busy day
  • It was a tiring day 
  • It was a strenuous day

Other Ways to Use “Well Spent” 

Image by nattanan23 via Pixabay

The phrase “well spent” does not have to refer only to your day. It can refer to your time in general, money, or even energy. 

  • I studied for 8 hours and got an A on the test. It was time well spent.
  • This hat cost $200, but it looks great. It was money well spent. 
  • I ran so hard and fast that I won the race. It was energy well spent. 

Synonyms for “Well Spent” 

If you don’t want to use the phrase “well spent,” you can use many other words instead. Check out the following terms for some ideas. 

  • Advantageous
  • Worthwhile
  • Beneficial
  • Effective
  • Rewarding
  • Successful
  • Useful

Phrases and Idioms

As we mentioned earlier, the phrase “day well spent” contains the idiom “well spent.” We consider this an idiom because you’re not literally spending a day like you would spend money. Instead, you are conducting your activities as the day passes you by. 

Idioms are expressions where the meaning is harder for us to determine through a literal reading of the words.

If you are interested in more common phrases and idioms and how to use them, you can check out our article “Greatly Appreciated: Meaning and Proper Usage.”

Distinguishing Parts of Speech

Words like “spent” can be tricky since some words can be either verbs or adjectives. When we form an adjective that looks exactly like the past participle of a verb, we call this a participial adjective (source). This article was written for 

As we discussed earlier, we use the adjective forms “well-spent” and “well spent” before or after the noun they modify, respectively.

Final Thoughts 

Phrases and idioms in English add so much color and interest to our conversations and writing. Knowing how to use them correctly can make you a more confident and fluent speaker. Hopefully, this article helped you understand more about how to use the phrase “well spent” in various contexts!