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When (time and dates)

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)



Dear teacher,
I would like to know whether time expression in this sentence is correct or not.
On 20/12/2014-03:40pm,the machine was shut down.

Is "at" necessary to tell the exact time?

Best regards,

Which one is right?
1. on 30/12/2014
2. in 30/12/2014


Hello Nsgb,

The correct preposition here is on. We use 'in' with years and months ('in 1945', 'in March') and 'on' with dates and days ('on 26/08/2014', 'on Wednesday').

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear teacher,

Is the first sentence is better than the second one ?
We are going to meet next week at six o’clock on Monday.
We will meet next week at six o’clock on Monday.

Thank you !

Hello Winnie,

Neither is grammatically incorrect and the choice will depend upon the context. I would say that the first example is more likely as it describes a planned event rather than a prediction or sudden decision (which would be the second example).

You can learn more about future forms, including 'will' and 'going to' here.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Please check the following three sentences and reply whether they are correct grammatically.

(i) What colour is milk?
(ii) What time the train leaves?
(iii) Which platform the train leaves?

Apart from "last, this and next" what are the other conditions when a preposition is omitted?



I would like to ask why do we say at Christmas?but not at Halloween,at New Year's Eve?

Thank you very much :)

Hello, is it right to say?

1- I called him at six o'clock in the morning
2- We visited him on Monday morning.
3- I will be on holiday on Monday, June 13th, 2014 To July 14th,2014.
4- you have to take this medicine on the second week.
5- I will take the present with me at breakfast time at six o'clock.
6- I will finish this work in spring.

Hi Dear
Is this sentece is correct or not? Please explane it if one is wrong.

Hi meheee2008uiu,

Which sentence do you mean?  It looks like you may have forgotton to include the sentence which you wanted to ask about!  Please reply to this, including the sentence you are not sure about.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team