In, On, At: Time

Grammar Summary:

Grammar lesson on the uses of the prepositions: "In", "On" and "At" for time. Comes with revision PDF to download. Also see the Practice Exercise on this subject.

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Printable PDFs for this lesson:

In this lesson we’re going to look at the prepositions: In, On, and At for time.

For example if we say in June, or on Friday, or at night, we are thinking about time.

We’re going to look at 16 examples in this lesson; 7 of those are for In, 2 are for On and 7 are for At. So let’s get started with In.

i) Using “In”

We use in for longer periods.

There are 5 examples on this page and each example has a picture to help you remember in future.

Number 1; "in June"; we've seen already; and this shows us that we can use in for months. So, "in June", "in July", "in August" and so on.  

Number 2 shows us that we can use in for years.  The example here is "in 2006". We could also say "in 1996, in 2016" or in whatever year.

Number 3 and this picture represents a particular decade. The example here is: "in the 60s". We could also say "in the 70s" or "in the 80s" or whatever decade.

Number 4. This picture represents a particular century. The example here is "in the 18th century" we could also say "in the 19th century", "in the 20th century" and so on.

Number 5. This picture represents a particular season. The example here is "in summer". We could also have "in winter", or "in Autumn" or "in Spring".

Now as I said before, we normally use In for longer periods, like months, years, decades, centuries and seasons. There are 2 more examples I want to show you which are not for longer periods.

Number 6 first, and this is "in" for a time in the future. The example is: "I'll do it in 5 minutes". What this means is "I'll do it 5 minutes from now". We could also say in 2 hours or in 5 days or whatever time.

Finally, Number 7, is "in" for time needed. We can use the same example as before, "I'll do it in 5 minutes", except here, it means something completely different.

Here it means "I need" or "it will take me" 5 minutes to do the job or the task that I'm talking about. And again, we can say in 2 hours or in 5 days or whatever time we're talking about.

So that's "in". Let's go now to "on".

ii) Using “On”

We use "on" for days and dates. Two examples here.

Number 1, "on Friday", shows us that we can use "on" for days of the week. We could also say "on Saturday" or "on Sunday" or on whatever day.

Number 2 is dates in the year, and the example is "on 23rd March", although speakers of American English will probably say "March 23rd" without the "on".

So that's "on": days and dates. Let's go finally to "at".

iii) Using “At”

And we use "at" for talking about particular times. 6 examples on this page.

Number 1, "at 6 o'clock", shows that we can use "at" for times of day. We could also say "at 7.30", or "at 10.45" or whatever time.

Number 2 is "at midday" or "at midnight", again times of day.

Number 3 shows we use "at" for mealtimes. The example here is "at lunch". We could also have "at breakfast" or "at dinner".

Number 4 is "at sunrise" or "at sunset".

Number 5 is "at night". Be careful here because we can't say "at day". Instead, we would probably say "during" the day.

And Number 6 shows we can use "at" for religious festivals. The picture example here is "at Christmas". We could also say "at Eid" or "at Vesach" or "at Diwali", and so on.

Now I said before that we can use "at" for particular times, like times of day, at midday / midnight, at mealtimes, at sunrise / sunset, at night and at religious festivals.

I want to show you one final example, and this is Number 7: "at the weekend" (two people lying on the grass), although in American English, we would probably say "on the weekend".

So that's the end of Part 1; here is the PDF which you can download. As you can see it has all the examples for In, On, At for time plus the pictures to make them easier to remember.

Join me in Part 2 for the practice exercises.

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Nouns: Countables, Uncountables (1)
Articles (2)
(3) | (Zero Article 4) | The: Special Uses (5)
There is, there are (6)
Quantity: Some, Any (7) | Many, Much, A lot of (8) | A few, a little (9)
Prepositions of time: In, On, At (10)
The Present: Present Simple (11) | Present Continuous (12)
The Past: Past Simple (13) | Past Continuous (14) | Present Perfect (15)
Irregular Verbs (16)
The Future: Future Simple (17) | Future Plans (18)
Phrasal Verbs (19) (20)

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