Prepositions of Time and Place: in, at, on.

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME AND PLACE

IN, AT, ON

Prepositions of time and place can create havoc for English learners.

In this post, we will try to help you to choose the right preposition when you speak and write.

IN

Use “in” to talk about time that is somewhat specific but not totally precise. That means, it tells you how much time (or how many units of time) something takes or will take, but not exactly when the time begins to count.

“In” often goes with a numeral/number followed by a time counter such as seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries.

For Example

  • in five minutes
  • in the afternoon
  • in six weeks
  • in two years
  • in a minute
  • in 8 hours
  • in a second
  • in two seconds
  • in a while
  • in four days
  • in 2 centuries
For references to place you would use “in” to a place that is somewhat specific though not necessarily totally precise. That is to say, you may not necessarily know exactly which one the speaker means but you may have a ballpark idea.

For example:

  • in the bathroom
  • in the kitchen
  • in the classroom
  • in the house
  • in the airplane
  • in the discotheque
  • in/at her office
  • in the car
  • in the cupboard
  • in the bowl

 

AT

Use “at” when you know precisely when something begins, began, or will begin.

For example:

  • at 6:00 a.m.
  • at midday
  • at 5 o’clock
  • at dinnertime
  • at Christmas time
  • at 2 o’clock tomorrow morning
  • at 11 o’clock last night
  • at noon
  • at midnight
  • at midday
  • at dawn
  • at dusk
  • at sundown
  • at the crack of dawn
  • at first light
For references to place, use at to refer to specific locations and the listener to whom you are speaking often knows precisely which one you mean.

For example:

  • at the corner
  • at the deli
  • at the supermarket
  • at school
  • at home
  • at the pharmacy
  • at work
  • at the beach

 

ON

Use “on” to refer to specific days in English.

For example:

  • on Sundays
  • On Mondays
  • On New Years Eve
  • On Christmas Day
  • On Friday
  • on my birthday
  • on your birthday
  • on Thanksgiving Day
  • on the Fourth of July
  • on Halloween
  • On Easter Sunday
For references to place, use “on” to refer to something or someone being to top of a specific surface.
  • on the waterslide
  • on the table
  • on the kitchen counter
  • on the desk
  • on/in the bus
  • on the roof
  • on the Internet
  • on the computer screen
  • on TV
  • on the TV

 

 

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