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)



Hello, teachers
If you could please tell me how to use this tense marker with the Past Simple tense {back in the (spring/summer / winter)} please explain it with examples??

Hello Karzan_Camus,

There is no special way to use 'back in the spring' as far as I can think of. Why don't you write a couple of sentences and we can tell you if you've used them correctly.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Ok. I mean using the expression (back in .... the summer/winter..)with the past simple tense.
examples: Back in the spring we visited the mountains of Himalaya.
Back in the summer I returned to my country.
Back in the autumn we renovated our house.

Hello Karzan_Camus,

Those sentences are all fine. I'm not sure what the problem is with this phrase for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

can you say 'on a' with a day of the week? for example 'I like to relax on a Sunday'. Does this imply you like to relax every Sunday

Hello naylera,

You can indeed say that. It suggests that you like to relax on a typical Sunday - but it does not mean that you do this every Sunday.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for clarification Peter.

Thanks for your help

Hi Kirk,

I don't exactly rerember the sentence where I saw it but it ended saying "during today" And that was it. No noun after that nor anything, and my question is if it is correct to say "during today" by itself as a temporal expression.

Hi ana,

I've found a few examples of 'during today', and many of 'during today's + noun' in the British National Corpus. I wouldn't say it's incorrect, but it does sound a bit unnatural to me, to be honest, though it's perfectly comprehensible. I'd probably suggest 'today' or 'all day today' as possible alternatives.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team