The things we want or need don’t often come immediately. It is hard to wait, so we find other things to pass the time or prepare for the event we are waiting for. There are many ways to tell others what can be done while waiting; “in the interim” is one of these ways.
It is correct to say “in the interim” to tell others what they can do between now and when a scheduled event happens in formal contexts. People often use this prepositional phrase to express an expectation of action during the waiting period. For example, someone may say, “I will take care of inventory in the interim.”
This article will tell you what “in the interim” means, how and when to use it, and what you can use instead. It will also review prepositional phrases in the English language.
What Does “In The Interim” Mean?
“In the interim” means a period of time between now and when something else happens. To fully understand “in the interim,” we need to break it down and look at each word; then, we can examine the meaning of the phrase as a whole.
You can use “in” as a preposition, adverb, or adjective, but in this case, it is a preposition (source). When the word “in” is a preposition, it means that someone or something is encased on all sides by something (source).
For example, when we say that someone is in their house, it means all the walls of their home surround them.
“Interim” means temporary or for a short time (source). We use this word when we talk about taking a break from something in a formal context or about someone doing something for a little while.
“The” is an article we use to discuss a specific thing. For example, if there is a pencil, a pen, and an eraser on a desk, you would say, “Please pass me the pen,” to indicate the specific pen on the table.
When we combine each of the words above, we can see that “in the interim” means a specific short period surrounded by at least two other events. So, for example, a teacher might say to her students:
“When our guest speaker comes in two weeks, we will ask them questions about ducks. In the interim, you will research ducks and come up with questions you can ask.”
In that example, the short period is two weeks, and the “interim” spans from the moment the teacher is talking (now) to when the guest speaker comes (in two weeks).
How Do You Use “In The Interim”?
“In the interim” is a formal phrase to let others know that something will be happening for a short period of time while they are waiting for something else to happen.
Usually, when people say this, they expect something to happen within the time frame they refer to. This may mean you have to do something, or someone else will do something during that time.
When Can You Use “In The Interim”?
Settings for “in the interim” include business discussions, talking with colleagues, or in the classroom, where people expect more formal speech. Often those in management positions will use the term when talking to the people they work with.
A manager talking to their team might give instructions about what the team members are supposed to do while they wait for something else to happen. For instance:
“We are waiting for the next product shipment before changing our window displays. In the interim, Hannah and Devon will design the new displays for the expected product.”
“The presentation to the client is in one month. In the interim, do everything you can to ensure it covers all the content and is formatted perfectly. We need to look professional.”
Similarly, a person might be introduced as an interim employee if someone is away from work and someone else is doing their job for a short period of time. Look at the examples below to see how one may use “in the interim” in this case.
“Sandy is away on leave for the next six months. In the interim, Jason will be filling in.”
“Our secretary had to have his appendix removed, so Sheila will be here in the interim.”
School classrooms are also where you might hear “in the interim” because the relationship between teachers and students should be formal and polite. Teachers tell students what to do each day, month, and year.
“In the third term, we will learn about how globalization impacts developing nations. In the interim, we will learn about globalization and how it began.”
“Your final draft is due in one week. In the interim, we will work on each paper section separately.”
Sometimes students have to work in groups with people they do not know. Formal speech shows respect between students who are unfamiliar with one another, so you might use “in the interim” when planning a project in school.
“Our project is due three days from now. In the interim, we will each work on our own parts and put them together the day before the due date.”
“I will finish the introduction by Friday. Could you find the facts we need in the interim?”
When Not To Use “In The Interim”
Since we use “in the interim” formally, you won’t use it in casual situations. For example, you don’t want to use it when talking with your family or friends in an everyday setting. You also don’t want to use it casually with your colleagues.
When you use formal language while speaking to your friends, family, or colleagues in a casual setting, they may think you are trying to sound smart and show off rather than have a friendly conversation. Therefore, it is essential to understand the context of a conversation to react appropriately.
If you are ever in doubt, it is better to make a mistake by being too formal rather than too casual.
Using “In The Interim” in a Full Sentence
Remember, “in the interim” means in the short time between two other events. When you use it in a sentence, you must always tell what will happen within the short time between now and the next event. You can use it at the sentence’s beginning or end as long as the other part tells what will happen.
The examples below show you how to use “in the interim” at the beginning and end of the sentence. Since it is a prepositional phrase, you will follow “in the interim” with a comma when placed at the beginning of the sentence.
Our pianist is on maternity leave for the next six months. In the interim, we will be using recorded music.
Since our pianist is on maternity leave for the next six months, we will use recorded music in the interim.
My boss returns at 5:00. In the interim, I must ensure the document is typed and ready to go.
My boss returns at 5:00, and I must ensure the document is typed and ready to go in the interim.
Our teacher told us we must hand this in at the end of class. In the interim, I will work hard to finish it.
Our teacher told us we must hand this in at the end of class, so I will work hard to finish it in the interim.
Notice how each sentence tells what will happen between one event and the next, regardless of whether “in the interim” is at the sentence’s beginning or end.
What Can You Use Instead of “In The Interim”?
You can use many phrases instead of “in the interim.” Terms and phrases that can replace it are adverbs or prepositional phrases of time referring to the time between two significant events.
You can use the following phrases in both formal and informal contexts:
- In the meantime
- For the time being
- For now
- For the present moment
Prepositional phrases are parts of a sentence that begin with a preposition. The final word of the prepositional phrase is the phrase’s object. They give us more information about verbs, adverbs, or adjectives (source).
- I put the pineapple on the counter to ripen.
In the above example, the prepositional phrase is in orange. It begins with the preposition “on” and ends with “counter.” The noun “counter” finishes the preposition because it answers the question of where the pineapple was put.
Knowing English prepositions and their meanings is essential because we often use them in speaking and writing. Prepositions provide information about time and place, so you must use the correct preposition in the proper context to be understood. Imagine telling someone to put the pineapple inside the counter!
Here are more examples of prepositional phrases:
- The rake is in the garage hanging over the lawnmower.
- The students in the red shirts were told to stand inside the red square.
- I have to run over a big hill every day to get home.
- Please put the vanilla in the batter for me.
- I need to buy tomatoes at the grocery store.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
As you can see from the above examples, we use prepositional phrases frequently in English. To read more about preposition phrases, check out our article on In Time vs. On Time: Choosing the Right Preposition for Time.
Sometimes it can take effort to figure out which phrases to use in which contexts. Listening carefully to what others are saying can help. For example, when telling others what can happen while waiting for another event at work, it is always okay to be polite and formal with “in the interim.”
However, if you are talking with friends or family, it is better to use a more casual “while” or “for the time being.”