The three most appropriate prepositions that we normally use when talking about “time” are In, At and On.
The rules are quite simple but you will only fully understand them when you try to use prepositions of time in practice. So let’s learn and practice how to use English prepositions of time!
We use AT
We use AT when referring to a specific time.
This would include – 3 pm, 10 am or a particular part of the day such as lunchtime or dinnertime.
I will meet you at 3 pm tomorrow. I received a call at 10 am this morning.
The announcement was made at lunchtime so that everyone could hear it.
We also have several phrases concerning time that use AT:
At the moment, at this time, at the beginning of.., at the end of…
At Christmas (the period of Christmas) and also at Easter (the period of Easter)
At the moment (now) I am focusing on my studies as I promised.
I am unable to answer that question at this time (now).
I will visit my family for two weeks at Christmas.
I am thinking of travelling abroad at Easter.
We use ON
We use “On” when referring to particular days and dates:
Saturday, Monday, 2nd February, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day
I always go for lunch with my friend on Saturdays.
On Friday last week I was ill and could not go to work.
The next meeting of our drama group will be on March 5th 2015.
Our family exchange presents every year on Christmas Day.
We use IN
We use “In” to refer to longer periods of time such as months and decades and even centuries.
In three months I will travel to America and stay with friends in New York.
The recession is the worst economic downturn in decades.
In three years he will be old enough to drive.
Queen Elizabeth 11 of England came to power in the 20th Century.
One last comment. We do not use any prepositions of time either At, In or On when we use “last” and “next” when referring to time and dates.
Last year I spent two months in America (not in last year!)
Next year I will be sixty years of age (groan!) (not at or on or in!!)
Take heart the more you practice English the easier it becomes…
Here is my short English video lesson for you to help you understand how to use English prepositions of time
Please read my other posts about English Grammar rules. Happy English learning!