The slightly idiomatic phrase “for the time being,” which is used modern English, refers to a temporary condition that is true at the time that the speaker is referencing it. In this phrase, the word “being” is what makes this phrase confusing to some English-language beginners. It’s useful for instructors or others to explain to those who are learning English why and how this phrase is used.
In most uses, the phrase is used for a condition that, while temporary, may exist for any definite period of time. For example, if somebody says that sales numbers are good at a company “for the time being,” this implies that the numbers can always change in future quarters or at other points in time. If someone uses the phrase in reference to their well being, they are making a general statement about their current satisfaction with situations and events, again, recognizing that something could change over time.
In many cases, English speakers will avoid using this phrase for referring to personal intentions. For example, someone might say “I can put your bill on hold for the time being,” which is a correct use of the phrase, but in some cases, they might prefer other kinds of expressions for something that is self-referencing. Another example is if someone who is helping out another person by holding up a temporary banner or other item says “I can hold this for while.” Here the phrase, “for a while,” is often preferred over the other term, which speakers often use to reference longer periods of time.
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The phrase is part of a larger category of phrases revolving around the use of the word “time.” Another similar one is “for a time.” This phrase also refers to a period of time, and shares a very similar meaning. Other modern phrases with the same meaning include “for now” or “for today.”
This is one of many utterances that can change its meaning slightly based on how someone says it. For example, certain inflections where the phrase is emphasized in context can lead listeners to believe that future conditions are expected to change quickly. Also, speakers can add the conjunction, “but,” and an additional sentence clause to suggest imminent change. For example, someone selling a product can say, “The price is low for the time being, but it could change tomorrow.”