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PREPOSITIONS OF TIME – AT / ON /IN
AT = an EXACT or PRECISE time
IN = PERIOD of time (months, years, seasons)
|ON||DAY & DATES|
|IN||PERIOD OF TIME|
WHEN TO USE AT FOR TIME
|at||midday / midnight|
- I went to the doctor at 8 o’clock this morning.
- The shops open at 9 a.m.
- I go to bed at midnight.
Although we use AT for an exact or precise time, some phrases do not follow the rule so we also say:
|AT NIGHT||AT THE WEEKEND|
|at Christmas||at Easter|
|at the beginning of (the lesson)||at the end of (the month)|
- I play tennis at the weekend.
- He doesn’t work at night. (Note!!! We say in the morning / in the afternoon / in the evening)
- At Christmas, we spend a lot of time with our family. (At is used here to the mean the time of the Christmas holidays not Christmas Day. For the day itself, we must say, “on Christmas Day”.
- I’m not working a lot at the moment.
- At the end of the lesson, the teacher gives homework to the students.
WHEN TO USE ON FOR TIME
|ON||DAYS / DATES|
|on Monday / Tuesday / on my birthday||DAYS|
|on Christmas Day / New Year's Day / on Valentine's Day||DAYS|
|on the 25th of December||DATES|
|on the first of July||DATES|
- The children are going to the cinema on Monday.
- On Fridays, I go to the gym. (This means, I go to the gym every Friday.)
- I always have a party on my birthday.
- Valentine’s day is on the 14th of February.
- REMEMBER to put THE before date. I went there on THE 5th of July.
WHEN TO USE IN FOR TIME
|IN||PERIODS OF TIME|
|in (the) summer, spring||SEASONS|
|in December, January||MONTHS|
|in 1975, 2017, 2025||YEARS|
|in the morning / the afternoon / the evening||PERIOD DURING THE DAY|
|in 10 minutes / 5 years / 4 weeks||FUTURE (10 minutes from now)|
- I like to go on holiday in winter.
- My birthday is in April.
- I was born in 1995.
- I don’t work in the evening.
- I’m going to start my new job in 5 weeks.
- The lesson starts in 5 minutes. (It is now 8.55 a.m. and the lesson will start at 9 a.m.)
REMEMBER! I go to the gym in the afternoon. BUT – On Monday afternoon, I’m going to the gym. (We use on here because the first time is the DAY).
DO NOT USE AT / ON / IN WITH THE FOLLOWING WORDS:
- Every week, I have an English lesson on Monday.
- I had an English lesson last Monday.
- Next Monday, I’m going to have an English lesson.
- I don’t have an English lesson today.
- Tomorrow, I’m going to have an extra English lesson.
- Yesterday, I had an English lesson.
Practice Exercise: Prepositions of Time
Click on the links below for more on prepositions:
Learn Prepositions of Place