Adverbials of time

We use adverbials of time to say:

when something happened:

I saw Mary yesterday.
She was born in 1978.
I will see you later.
There was a storm during the night.

• for how long :

We waited all day.
They have lived here since 2004.
We will be on holiday from July 1st until August 3rd.

how often (frequency):

They usually watched television in the evening.
We sometimes went to work by car.

We often use a noun phrase as a time adverbial:


yesterday last week/month/year one day/week/month last Saturday
tomorrow next week/month/year the day after tomorrow next Friday
today this week/month/year the day before yesterday the other day/week/month





Good afternoon,

Will you please explain why the "during the summer" adverbial was enclosed in the "when" category and not in the "how long" one at the answers of the activity? Aren't "during the summer" and "from June to August" forms equivalent?

Hello Dragos,

Although it indicates a period of time that begins at one point and ends at another, 'during' is typically used to refer to that whole period of time, not to indicate duration. It's a subtle difference. You might want to look up 'during' in the dictionary search box on the right side of this page – the example sentences there could be helpful in seeing exactly how it works.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk
I have always been perplexed by the usage of "period of time". The only kinds of periods meant by those who use this phrase are time, so it’s a redundancy. Simply saying “time” or “period” would suffice. Both are time words. My 2 cents :)

Hello .. i can't understand the relation between the word " today " and the phrase "the day before yesterday" ?? how could us talk about this day and then we say ( before yesterday ) ? thanks

Hello Shimaa Yasser,

If today is Wednesday, yesterday is Tuesday and the day before yesterday is Monday. I hope this clears it up for you!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

Which sentence is appropriately correct?

The game started in Newyork at 3.00pm on Sunday 5th of July 1998.
The game started in Newyork on Sunday at 3.00pm 5th of July 1998.
The game started in Newyork in 1998 5th of July on Sunday at 3.00pm.

Hello hrnmno,

The first of these is the most natural. We generally start with the most specific reference (clock time) and then move to progressively more general (day, month and year). This can change if we wish to emphasise a certain point for some reason, but it would be unusual.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
Thank you for your reply. I read the definition for four preposition (in , within, by, and until) in your dictionary. It didn't make me clear. My question, as I mentioned before, is clear .Can we use these four preposition interchangeably? If the answer is no, what is the difference in the meaning? Look at the examples bellow; they are the exact examples of your dictionary.
Can you finish the job in two weeks? If we replace "in" with "within" or "until" and say "Can you finish the job within two weeks?" or "Can you finish the job until two weeks?" Do these three sentences have the same meaning?
Your dictionary says the usage for "in"," MORE THAN- needing or using no more time than a particular amount of time:" and for "within" it says " Inside or not further than an area or period of time , and for until says " up to (the time that)". So the definition seems close to each other. Now please make the point clear ,Are there any differences in usage among these prepositions?

Hello Kirk,
Thank you for reply on 28 Nov.I read your page talking about the future. I didn't find my answere. This question came to my mind based on this point about "will"."when we decide to do something at the time of speaking we use will.Therefore, fore example,in the sentence "I am going on holiday next Saturday."we can not use will.(Raymond Murphy,1995).By the same token I thought there maybe the sentence " Thomas will graduate from collage next month.'wrong grammatically.So what do you think about the correctness of the sentence?By the way my question concerning "in , within, by , and until' left unanswered. Do the four sentences have the same meaning?
Best Wishes,

Hi shadyar,

'Thomas will graduate from college next month' is a grammatically correct sentence. 'will' has many uses, and one of them is the one you mention - to talk about a future action that we've just decided on in the moment of speaking. The other most common uses of 'will' are explained on our will or would page. One of them, to make a prediction about the future or express a simple fact, seems to be the way it is used in the sentence about Thomas.

I believe I responded to your comment about the different prepositions by suggesting that you try to explain what you think the differences in meaning are. I'd suggest you use our dictionary to look up each one and then consider your sentences in the light of the definitions and examples. If you have Murphy's book, it might be a useful resource for this task as well. Once you've done this, write out what you think the differences in meaning are and we'll be happy to confirm or correct them for you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team