Prepositions of time
This post looks at the prepositions of time, in, on and at with dates and times. There is a quick quiz at the end to test your knowledge.
Prepositions of time: IN
Used for non-specific times, for example: years, months
In the morning
In the afternoon
In the evening
In five minutes
In a few minutes/days/weeks/months/years
In three weeks
In ten months
In the future
In one hundred years’ time
In the moment (this describes someone who lives for the present and does not think about the future. Therefore it is important not confuse with ‘at the moment’ = right now)
Examples with ‘in’
I like to exercise early in the morning in summer before it gets too hot. In the winter, however, I prefer to exercise in the evening, after work.
Hurry up because the film starts in a few minutes. I want to get there before it begins!
I hope to move abroad in a few years when I have finished university so I can learn Spanish.
His first child was born in either 1980 or 1979. I can’t remember which.
Do you think humans will live on other planets in a thousand years?
John always lives in the moment. He works hard and plays hard and never worries about tomorrow.
Prepositions of time: At
Used for specific times and holidays without ‘day’
At New Year
At the end of
At the beginning/start
At the moment (right now, this minute)
Examples with ‘at’
I start work at 8am and finish at 5pm.
The supermarket opens at 7am and closes at midnight.
The next train to Paris leaves at 18.35.
I can’t talk at the moment because I’m in a meeting. Can I call you back later?
What are you doing at Christmas? Are you staying home or going to stay with your parents?
Don’t tell me what happens at the end of the book because I haven’t read it yet.
Prepositions of time: ON
Used for dates, days of the week and holidays with ‘day’
On someone’s birthday
On Christmas Day
On New Year’s Day
On Easter Sunday
On Saturday night
On Friday afternoon
On 2nd of February
On July 12th
On the first Wednesday of every month
Examples with ‘on’
Are we meeting on Monday or on Tuesday?
He was born on the 1st of April.
I usually go swimming on Tuesday and Friday mornings while the kids are at school.
Are you doing anything special on your birthday this year.
We’re probably having dinner at my sister’s house on Christmas Day this year. She lives opposite us.
Words that do not take prepositions of time
The day before yesterday
Examples with words that do not take prepositions of time
Sam and Louise are getting married next month.
I haven’t seen him today, in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him since the day before yesterday.
Do you fancy going out for dinner this evening? A new Italian restaurant has opened opposite the library.
I couldn’t sleep last night because of the noise from the party next door.
Quick Quiz (answers at the end)
1: We like going for a walk __ the evening.
2: They are going to stay in a castle __ their wedding anniversary this year.
3: She’s moving to France __ the summer.
4: We always have about 20 guests here for dinner __ my birthday, but my husband does the cooking.
5: I’m really excited because I start my new job __ a few days.
6: ‘Are you going away __ the weekend?’ ‘Yes, we are going __ Sunday. We’re leaving early __ the morning.’
7: British scientist Sir Isaac Newton was born __ Christmas Day __ 1642.
8: The class starts __ 9am and finishes __ noon.
9: Our cat likes to sleep during the day and go out __ night.
10: The wedding will take place __ two years’ time __ the 26th May __ 2pm.
1: We like going for a walk in the evening.
2: They are going to stay in a castle on their wedding anniversary this year.
3: She’s moving to France in the summer.
4: We always have about 20 guests here for dinner on my birthday, but my husband does the cooking.
5: I’m really excited because I start my new job in a few days.
6: ‘Are you going away at the weekend?’ ‘Yes, we are going on Sunday. We’re leaving early in the morning.’
7: British scientist Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day in 1642.
8: The class starts at 9am and finishes at noon.
9: Our cat likes to sleep during the day and go out at night.
10: The wedding will take place in two years’ time on the 26th May at 2pm.