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Prepositions of Time – at, in, on

We use:

  • at for a PRECISE TIME
  • in for MONTHS, YEARS, CENTURIES and LONG PERIODS
  • on for DAYS and DATES

Look at these examples:

  • I have a meeting at 9am.
  • The shop closes at midnight.
  • Jane went home at lunchtime.
  • In England, it often snows inDecember.
  • Do you think we will go to Jupiter inthe future?
  • There should be a lot of progress inthe next century.
  • Do you work on Mondays?
  • Her birthday is on 20 November.
  • Where will you be on New Year’s Day?

Notice the use of the preposition of time atin the following standard expressions:

ExpressionExample
at nightThe stars shine at night.
at the weekend*I don’t usually work at the weekend.
at Christmas*/EasterI stay with my family at Christmas.
at the same timeWe finished the test at the same time.
at presentHe’s not home at present. Try later.

*Note that in some varieties of English people say “on the weekend” and “on Christmas”.

Notice the use of the prepositions of time inand on in these common expressions:

inon
in the morningon Tuesday morning
in the morningson Saturday mornings
in the afternoon(s)on Sunday afternoon(s)
in the evening(s)on Monday evening(s)

When we say last, next, every, this we do not also use at, in, on.

  • I went to London last June. (not in lastJune)
  • He’s coming back next Tuesday. (noton next Tuesday)
  • I go home every Easter. (not at everyEaster)
  • We’ll call you this evening. (not in thisevening)

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