Level: elementary

We use phrases with prepositions as time adverbials:

  • We use at with:
clock times: at seven o'clock at nine thirty at fifteen hundred hours  
mealtimes: at breakfast at lunchtime at teatime  
these phrases: at night at the weekend at Christmas at Easter
  • We use in with:
seasons of the year: in (the) spring/summer/autumn/winter        
years, centuries, decades: in 2009 in 1998 in the 20th century in the 60s in the 1980s
months: in January/February/March etc.        
parts of the day: in the morning in the afternoon in the evening    
  • We use on with:
days: on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday etc. on Christmas day on my birthday
dates: on the thirty-first of July on June the fifteenth    
Be careful!

We say at night when we are talking about all of the night:

When there is no moon, it is very dark at night.
He sleeps during the day and works at night.

but we say in the night when we are talking about a specific time during the night:

He woke up twice in the night.
I heard a funny noise in the night.

We often use a noun phrase as a time adverbial:

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

We can put time phrases together:

We will meet next week at six o'clock on Monday.
I heard a funny noise at about eleven o'clock last night.
It happened last week at seven o'clock on Monday night.

We use ago with the past simple to say how long before the time of speaking something happened:

I saw Jim about three weeks ago.
We arrived a few minutes ago.

We use in with a future form to say how long after the time of speaking something will happen:

I'll see you in a month.
Our train's leaving in five minutes.

When (time and dates)

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Comments

"the end of the month"- could mean the week of the 23-31st.
"the last week of the month"

So what preposition should i use?

Hello Dean,
The correct preposition is 'at':
> I'll be back at the end of the month.
~
The term is not precisely defined and so the precise meaning depends on the context in which it is used.
~
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Is our meeting on schedule? On time?
I'm sometimes confused with these expressions. The other day, 'on the schedule?' slipped out of my mouth. How strange does it sound? Can anybody tell me?

Hello Smiley1,

The correct terms are, as you say, on schedule and on time.

If you say on the schedule then it is a mistake, but not one which would stop people understanding you.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Glad to hear from you Peter, thank you!

Hello LearnEngliah Team,
I’m new here but I stumbled upon your site when I entered a question via google.

Which is the correct grammar.,
1. Knock and take a 8 seconds break......Before the next
2. Knock and take an eight seconds break.......Before the next
3. Knock and take the eight seconds break........
Before the next

And please give me the correct grammar to use..... me and my friends can’t seem to agree on any., using a before the figure 8, an before the word eight which happens to start with a vowel, or to use ‘the’ an indefinite article though there’s no agreed rule that one ought to wait for a set of eight seconds before their next knock. Please help. Thanks.

Hello mFred

The second one is the best one, though in standard British English the word 'seconds' would be 'second' (in the singular). Units that are used as part of a noun modifier usually go in the singular -- this is why 'second' is better here. Another example is 'a twenty-kilo sack of rice' or 'a one-litre bottle'.

The indefinite article 'an' goes with the noun 'break'. But since 'break' has the noun modifier 'eight seconds' before it, and 'eight seconds' begins with a vowel sound, we use 'an' instead of 'a'.

I hope that helps you and your friends!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers,
Is it correct to say "my birthday is the first of June" or " my birthday is on the first of June"? In grammar books it's prescribed the use of "on" for dates, but in real life I have more often heard this kind of sentence without "on"...Which is the correct one? And how about sentences like " we are going to meet the first of July" , do I need the "on" preposition or not?
Regards,
Babsel

Hello Babsel,

In my opinion as far as the first example goes both forms are correct and are in common use. The second example (with 'meet') requires 'on'. When there is an event which characterises a date such as a birthday, a historical anniversary, or a holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, then we can use the date without the preposition. When we are simply talking about something which we choose to do on a given date such as a meeting, a trip, a wedding or a party then we need to use the preposition.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Good day sir! I have a question...
Do we say 8 at night or 8 in the night?
We normally say:
She ate ice-cream 8 in the afternoon yesterday
But do we say
She ate ice-cream 8 at night / in the night?
I rarely hear people describing that way...
Thank you in advance!

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