Teach and Learn English

AT, IN or ON? Prepositions of TIME

ON May or IN May? AT the morning or IN the morning? ON night or AT night? I'm sure you've faced these dilemmas before. When my students say it's complicated... I tell them – it's interesting! :))) Because the most important thing is the right attitude! Brace yourselves then – here we go...







Ok, let's start with AT

  • we use it with clock time (at 9 am, at 8 o'clock, but also - at dinner time, at breakfast or at midnight, at midday)
We had breakfast at 7 am.
Tom visited us at breakfast. (= during breakfast time)
At midnight it suddenly stopped raining.

  • we use it with period of time which is a few days – at the weekend or some public holidays (at Christmas, at Easter)
Where are you going at Christmas?
What are you doing at the weekend?*

* In American and Australian English it is more common to say 'ON the weekend'

  • we use it with NIGHT when we want to say 'during any night'
I try to sleep 8 hours at night. (= every night)

  •  we use it with expressions like THE END or THE BEGINNING
We have holiday at the end of August.
At the beginning of next week we are organising a meeting for all our managers.





ON
  • is used with DAYS (whenever we talk about ONE DAY period)
I met him on Friday.
We suggested leaving on Christmas Day.
On New Year's Eve we usually stay at home.
Her birthday is on the 7th July.

  • is used with days of the week to mean 'every'
We always go to the fitness club on Saturdays. (= every Saturday)

  • is used with parts of the day when the first word is a day of the week
We met on Saturday evening.







IN
  • is used with parts of the day (in the morning, in the afternoon)
I usually have tea in the evening and coffee in the morning.

  • is used with NIGHT to mean 'during one particular night'
I didn't sleep well in the night. (= only this particular night)

  • is used with LONGER periods of time (in March, in 2008, in fall)
We went to Turkey in May.
Why don't we go to the seaside in summer?
She was born in 1998.

  • is used with expression THE MIDDLE OF
In the middle of January the temperatures dramatically dropped.

  • is used to mean 'how soon something will happen' (in a few days, in a month, in a year)
We should finish the meeting in 20 minutes.
We are moving house in a month.
I will do it in a moment.



And last but not least... There are some situatons in which we DO NOT USE ANY PREPOSITIONS:


NO PREPOSITION IS USED BEFORE:

EVERY/ ALL/ONE/NEXT/LAST
THIS/THAT
ANY TIME
YESTERDAY/TOMORROW/THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY/THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW 

We see each other every Monday.
Sarah is not visiting us this week, she is comming next month.
I will do it the day after tomorrow.
You can come any time you want.



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