A preposition is a function word that is placed before a noun or anything equivalent to a noun. Prepositions are used to create a connection between the noun and the other words of the sentence.
Example: My cousin will come on Monday.
In the above example, “On” is the preposition. The preposition is used to create a link between the noun “Monday” and the rest of the words. As “Monday” refers to a specific time, we call it a preposition of time.
“At,” “On,” and “In” are the three most common prepositions of time that we use before any noun in a sentence to create a time connection between the object (noun) and the rest of the other words in the sentence. A preposition of time helps us understand any specific year (In 2001), month (In July), date (On 26th June), day (On Sunday), time (6 o’clock), etc.
|Use of “At” as a |
Preposition of Time
|Use of “On” as a |
Preposition of Time
|Use of “In” as a|
Preposition of Time
|We usually use “At” for a specific time of day and any particular day, such as a holiday or festival.||We usually use “On” for all the seven days of the week and any specific date of a calendar.||We usually use “In” for any month, year and season.|
Though prepositions are one of the significant parts of speech that we use in most sentences, I find many of my students make mistakes in using prepositions. I have already mentioned the primary uses of prepositions of time in the above table.
However, there are some other uses too. In this post, I will share some essential rules and relevant examples for each rule that will surely help you learn prepositions of time: At, On, and In.
“At” Is Used for Clock Times
Example 1: Anne called me at 5 o’clock.
Example 2: They left at 3 PM.
“At” Is Used for Any Specific Time of the Day
Example 1: Ruana will meet us at lunchtime.
Example 2: He will text me at night.
|Note: Noon, lunchtime, dinnertime, bedtime, sunrise, sunset, night, etc., are the words that take “At” before them. |
Exception: The words “morning,” “afternoon,” and “evening” do not take “At” before them, though they refer to a specific time of a day. I will talk about them in the latter part of the post.
“At” Is Used for Specific Points in Time
Example 1: Razib is busy at the moment.
Example 2: At present, he is working on our new website.
|Note: The moment, the end, the start, the same time, etc., are the phrases that take “At” before them.|
“At” Is Used for Holidays or Festivals
Example 1: They go for an outing at the weekends.
Example 2: We visit our relatives at Eid.
|Note: Some native speakers of English also prefer using “On” before holidays and festivals. I will talk about it in the next part of the post.|
“On” Is Used for Any Day of the Week
Example 1: Rishita will join on Monday.
Example 2: They arrived on Saturday.
|Note: We also use “On” before, “Thursday night,” “Saturday morning,” “Friday evening,” etc.|
“On” Is Used for Any Date of the Month
Example 1: Rabina will be there on 6 June.
Example 2: My father will visit my place on 16 December 2021.
“On” Is Used for Any Special Day
Example 1: We’ve decided to launch the new product on Victory Day.
Example 2: I will publish my next book on my birthday.
Example 3: My parents send me gifts on Christmas Day.
“In” Is Used for Any Month of the Year
Example 1: I was born in June.
Example 2: They will go to India in April.
“In” Is Used for Any Season
Example 1: I love to visit my grandparents’ place in winter.
Example 2: Different flowers bloom in spring.
“In” Is Used for Any Year
Example 1: My younger brother started learning guitar in 2019.
Example 2: Jhohan was born in 2000.
“In” Is Used For the Century
Example 1: Novel became a popular genre of literature in the 19th century.
Example 2: Many social media platforms have flourished in this century.
“In” Is Used for General Times of the Day
Example 1: My father loves to have a 30-minute walk in the morning.
Example 2: We play football in the afternoon.
Example 3: I come back home in the evening.
“In” Is Used for a Long/Extended Time
Example 1: He was more active in the past.
Example 2: I will never make this mistake in the future.
Example 3: We are living in an era of technology.
Example 4: T.S Eliot was a significant poet in the modern age.
No Preposition for Last, Next, This, Every, Today, Yesterday
Example 1: I went to Dhaka last month.
Example 2: Billie will apply for a new job next year.
Example 3: She called me this morning.
Example 4: My niece goes to school every day.
Example 5: We have a meeting today.
Example 6: He arrived yesterday.
Prepositions of time and place are considered the two difficult areas that ESL learners struggle to master. Yet, I expect the above discussion on “At,” “On,” and “In” will help you to master the use of prepositions of time correctly.
I hope the discussion will help you to understand everything about the use of prepositions of time: at, on, and in.
Thanks for reading.