In Grammar By Catherine

Prepositions of time in English: at, in, on

Subject prepositions in the English language, and is simple and complex at the same time. It would seem, remember once and for all where any excuse and no problems. But, as you probably have already noticed, the English — language is not only the right but also the exceptions. Subject prepositions already seen earlier in the article, «The use of prepositions in the English language», today try to find out in more detail in the prepositions of time, namely, at, in, on.

  1. At
    • with a particular point in time: at 6 o’clock; at midday; at midnight
    • speaking about the beginning and end of period: at the beginning; at the end

      She is moving in at the beginning of January. — It enters in early January.

    • shorter periods associated with holidays or weekends: at Easter; at Christmas; at the weekend
    • with words denoting mealtimes: at breakfast; at lunch; at dinner
    • with the word night (implying no specific night, and during the day as a whole)

      After stressful day at work I can not sleep at night. — After a busy day at work, I can not sleep at night.

      However, you should pay attention to the fact that in some cases we still use the preposition in, talking about the night:

      • with a look in the middle of …

        I woke up in the middle of the night when I heard my dog ​​barking. — I woke up in the night, when I heard my dog ​​barking.

      • when it comes to any particular night

        I had a fever in the night and had to take medicine. — During the night I had a fever, and I had to take medication. (here we are talking about a particular night, not the time of day as a whole)

      • with the phrase at the moment (ceychas); Please note that we are talking in a moment, when we want to say that something will happen over time. Compare these two sentences:

        She is in England at the moment. — It is now in England.

        I will join you in a moment. — I’ll join you in a minute.

  2. In
    • with longer periods of time such as:
      • seasons: in the winter, in the summer etc.
      • month: in May, in October etc.
      • year: in 1967
      • decades: in the 1990s
      • centuries: in the 18th century
      • other times, for example: in the week before Christmas, in the hours before the exam
    • speaking of the time of day (except for the expression at night): in the morning; in the evening
    • speaking about how much time it takes to perform an action

      I’ve learned this poem just in two hours. — I learned this poem in just two hours.

    • talking about how much time will pass before the action occurs

      The dinner will be served in 10 minutes. — Dinner will be served in 10 minutes.

  3. On
    • speaking about a specific day, date, or a specific point of the day

    My next lesson is on Friday. — My next lesson on Friday. (specific date)

    We are having an exam on the last day of the month. — In the last few days we write the exam. (specific date)

    My birthday is on the 16th of May. — My birthday is the 16th of May. (date)

    I am meeting my friends on Friday evening. — I meet with friends on a Friday night. (a certain time of the day)

Note also that there are a number of words, before which prepositions are used, these include: all, any, each, every, last, next, one, some, this, that.

Compare the following couple of suggestions:

She’ll come in the morning. — She’ll come next morning.

See you on Monday. — I go to the cinema every Monday.

Also prepositions at, in, on not being used to the expressions (the day before) yesterday, (the day after) tomorrow:

I had a lot of work yesterday. — I had a lot of work yesterday.

You should also remember that, asking the time, preferable for the English phrase is What time …? while the terms At what time …? It is too formal and rarely used.

So, if you again look closely at the examples in the article, you will notice a definite system to use prepositions of time in English. Very generally it can be said in that the preposition corresponds to the long time intervals, such as decade, year, month, etc., at, in turn, corresponds to the shortest period of time.

I hope the examples given in the article will help you to remember especially the use of prepositions of time in English. To verify this, I propose to run a little test:



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