Prepositions of time: 'at', 'in', 'on'

Prepositions of time: 'at', 'in', 'on'

Do you know how and when to use at, in and on to talk about time? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we use at, in and on to talk about time.

At weekends, I love to go skiing.
In spring, the weather is warmer.
On Mondays, I work from home.
In the afternoon, I do activities.
On weekdays, I work until 12.
At 5 o'clock, I do two or three more hours of work.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar A1-A2: Prepositions of time – 'at', 'in' and 'on': 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We use the prepositions in, on or at to say when something happens.

at

We usually use at with clock times and mealtimes.

I get up at 6.30 a.m. and go for a run.
She doesn't like to leave the office at lunchtime.

We also use at with some specific phrases such as at the weekend and at night.

At the weekend, I can spend the days how I like.

We can also say on weekends or on the weekend. This is more common in American English.

We say at night when we mean all of the night. But we say in the night when we want to talk about a specific time during the night.

She's a nurse and she works at night.
The baby often wakes up in the night.

We use at with Christmas and other holidays that last several days.

The weather is very cold here at Christmas.
At Chinese New Year, many people go home to their families.

clock times at 6 o'clock
at 9.30
at 13.00
mealtimes and breaks at breakfast time
at lunchtime
at dinner time
at break time
other time phrases at night
at weekends/the weekend
at Christmas/Easter

in

We usually use in with parts of the day and longer periods of time such as months, seasons and years.

I usually relax in the evening.
In summer it's too hot to do anything.
I'm always really busy in December.

parts of the day in the morning/afternoon/evening
months in January/February
seasons in (the) spring/summer/autumn/winter
years, centuries, decades in 2016
in the 21st century
in the 80s
other time phrases in the past
in the future
in the last few years/months/weeks/days

on

We usually use on with days and dates.

On Fridays, I have a long lunch.
It's his birthday on 19 October.

days on Monday/Tuesday etc.
on my birthday
on New Year's Day
dates on 30 July
on the second of August

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar A1-A2: Prepositions of time – 'at', 'in' and 'on': 2

Average: 4 (364 votes)
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Hello kikoo,

I would say 'at', but I think 'in' and 'with' are also used. Online courses are new linguistic territory!

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by OOUOUIOU on Wed, 14/06/2023 - 22:17

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Well thanks for the Lesson, thank you a lot!

Submitted by Howard Manzi on Wed, 01/03/2023 - 15:12

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Hello. Sorry these prepositions ("of" vs "from") aren't on the page. Which of these is correct? Or are they both? What's the difference in meaning?
- I almost cried of happiness when I saw my long-lost mum.
- I almost cried from happiness when I saw my long-lost mum.

Hi Howard Manzi,

The usual preposition would be "with": I almost cried with happiness. Using "from" is also possible, but less commonly used.

The preposition "of" is normally used when "cry" is a noun, not a verb (e.g. I gave a cry of happiness).

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team