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Prepositions of Time: at, on, in

Prepositions of Time: at, on, in
Activity SmartMemo
Activity SmartMemo
When to use AT, ON, IN as prepositions of time, General rules and exceptions.

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1- Look at the words and think of its meaning (and maybe pronunciation)
2- Move your mouse over the black button to check your answer.
3- If you were right, click on the green button, if wrong, click on the red.

Memorise this rule:

At a time, On a day, In a period
AT a time       (times: 10 o'clock, 5:30, etc.)
ON a day       (days and dates: Monday, Thanksgiving, the 5th of June, etc.)
IN a period    (periods of time: week, month, year, 4 hours, morning, etc.)
I get up at 9 o'clock
I was there at noon (noon= 12:00 pm)
You can come at lunch time
I went to Berlin on Monday
I was born on May 2nd
My brother arrived on Christmas Day
He was born in the 19th century
She had her holidays in June
Don't go to Egypt in summer
  IN can be used in two other special cases:
1- To say how soon something will happen
- I'll see you in two days (also: two days' time)
- come to see me again in a week  (also: a week's time)
2- To say how long something takes to happen
- I can run 200 metres in 30 seconds
- he wrote a book in a month


1- We say "in the morning", "in the afternoon", "in the evening", but: "at night". The expression "in the night" means "during one particular night". Compare:
- Don't go out at night, it can be dangerous
- We slept in a tent, but I woke up in the night and could only sleep two hours
2- at the weekend / at weekends (AmE: on the weekend)
3- on holiday
4- ON + day + part of the day
- I went there on Monday morning
- Come with us on Saturday night
- We get our presents on Christmas morning
5- We say: In the past, in the future, but... at present
6- Christmas, Easter and other long holidays use On for the day but AT for all the period
- Come and see us on Christmas Day (December 25)
- I stayed at home at Christmas (all my Christmas holidays)
- We're going to Zamora at Easter
- What are you doing on Easter Monday?
Note: when talking about Dec 25, American people say "on Christmas" or (less often) "on Christmas Day", but in British English we only say "on Christmas Day".
"At Easter" is the same as "In the Holy Week" (less often). "On Easter" is the same as "on Easter Sunday".  For the other days of Easter we must specify: on Easter Monday, etc.

When we say next, last, this, every we do not use at, in, on.

I went to Paris last summer (not: in last summer)
I'm starting my holidays next Saturday (not: on next Saturday)
I go home every Easter (not: at every Easter)
We'll call you this afternoon (not: in this afternoon)


Item Match Comments
Actualmente hay mucho tráfico en esta ciudad At present there's a lot of traffic in this city
Cervantes y Shakespeare murieron los dos en 1616 Cervantes and Shakespeare both died in 1616
Comimos en un restaurante el día de Navidad We had lunch in a restaurant on Chrismas Day
Construyeron la casa en unos pocos días They built the house in a few days
El teléfono sonó tres veces por la noche The phone rang three times in the night
Ella deja la luz encendida por la noche She leaves the light on at night to leave the light on = dejar la luz encendida
Ella se marcha dentro de dos días She's leaving in two days
Ellos estaban aquí a la hora del té They were here at tea time
En el futuro, llámame antes de venir In the future, call me before coming
En Semana Santa hay muchas procesiones en Zamora There are many processions in Zamora at Easter
Esa escritora nació en el siglo XVI That writer was born in the 16th century
Estaré en casa el miércoles por la noche I'll be at home on Wednesday evening
Este mes estoy de vacaciones This month I'm on holiday
Estuve en Salamanca el fin de semana I was in Salamanca at the weekend
Fui a Valladolid el domingo de Pascua I went to Valladolid on Easter also: on Easter Sunday
He quedado con Ann a las 6 I'm meeting Ann at 6
José llegó a mediodía Joseph arrived at noon
Llovió en Semana Santa It rained at Easter
Los sábados por la noche nos vamos a la disco On Saturday nights we go to the disco
Me fui a Jerusalén en Navidades I went to Jerusalem at Christmas
Me levanto a las nueve I get up at 9 o'clock
Nací el tres de abril I was born on April 3rd also: on the 3rd of April
No llovió en septiembre I didn't rain in September
No tengo vacaciones en agosto I have no holidays in August also: I don't have any holidays in August
or: I haven't got any / I've got no...
No trabajo los fines de semana I don't work at the weekend also: ... at weekends
(AmE: on weekends)
No trabajo los sábados I don't work on Saturdays
No trabajo por la tarde I don't work in the afternoon
No voy a estar aquí en tu cumpleaños I'm not going to be here on your birthday
Ocurrió en la semana después de Navidad It happened in the week after Christmas
Podemos quedar a la hora de comer We can meet at lunch time
Por favor, queda conmigo a las diez y media Please, meet me at 10:30
Siempre pienso en ti en nuestro aniversario I always think of you on our anniversary
Te veo el martes que viene I'll see you next Tuesday
Te veré dentro de un rato I'll see you in a moment
Tengo una reunión a las cinco I have a meeting at 5
Tengo una reunión el lunes por la mañana I have a meeting on Monday morning also: ... next Monday morning
Todo comenzó a media noche Everything began at midnight
Tuve que escribir una redacción en veinte minutos I had to write a composition in 20 minutes
Voy a clase por la mañana I go to class in the morning
¿Qué vas a hacer el lunes santo? What are you doing on Easter Monday? Also: What are you going to do...?
Total number of items: 40

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