Preposition of Time


A preposition of time is a preposition that permits you to discuss or converse a specific time period such as a date on the calendar, one of the days of the week, or the actual time a certain thing takes place. Prepositions of time are the same words as prepositions of place, however they are used in a different way. You can easily make a distinction of these prepositions, as they always talk over times rather than places. Prepositions of time - here's a list of the time words that need 'on', 'in', 'at' and some that don't need any preposition. Be cautious - many students of English use 'on' with months (it should be 'in'), or put a preposition before 'next' when we don't need one. Prepositions of time agree to to tell your readers when things are taking place. They are essential parts of speech to use in stories, as well as when writing simple communications, reports, stories and other items. 

        at - precise time           

       in - months, years, centuries and long periods      

           on days and dates        

 at 3 o' clock  in July  on Thursdays
 at 7.30 am   in summer  on 5 march
 at sunrise  in the next century  on Republic Day
 at sunset  in the Ice Age  on my birthday
 at noon  in the summer  on 17 July
 at dinnertime  in 1987  on 25 Dec 2000
 at bedtime  in the 1990s  on Christmas Day
 at the moment  in the past / future  on New Year's Eve

Preposition of Time Definition

We use prepositions to describe a relationship between other words in a sentence. When we use prepositions of time there are 3 common ones, 'at' 'in'  and 'on'. When is your anniversary? Mine is ON September 16. When do you eat lunch? I usually eat it AT noon. When does the school year begin in your country? In mine it begins IN July. A preposition for time expresses when the action in the clause takes place. One or more prepositions may be used in a series.  

Prepositions of Time: at, in, on 

We use:
    • at for a precise time
    • in for months, years, centuries and long periods
    • on for days and dates
  • At – This preposition of time is used to discuss clock times, holidays and festivals, and other very specific time frames including exceptions, such as “at night.”
  • In – This preposition of time is used to discuss months, seasons, years, decades, centuries, general times of day, and longer periods of time such as “in the past.”
  • On – This preposition of time is used to discuss certain days of the week or portions of days of the week, specific dates, and special days such as “on New Year’s Day.”

We use for + a period of time expressing duration
for seven years - for three hours - for a week
I've lived in this house for eight years. They have been watching TV for four hours.

We use until/till to say how long a situation continues
Let's wait until it stops snowing. I stayed in bed until half past nine.

We use during + noun to say when something happens
during the big screen - during our holiday - during the night
We met a lot of interesting people during our vacation.
I fell asleep during the picture.

We use since + a starting point, a specific time
since April - since 1987 - since 7 o' clock
It has been raining since ten o' clock. They've known each other since they were at school.

We use from - to + beginning and end of a period
Last evening we watched TV from 4 to 7 o' clock.

no prep
    • next week, year, month etc
    • last night, year etc
    • this morning, month etc
    • every day, night, years etc
    • today, tomorrow, yesterday

Preposition of Time Examples

Examples of Prepositions of Time

There may only be three prepositions of time, but the ways in which you can use them are almost endless.  In the following examples, the prepositions of time have been italicized for ease of identification 
  • I have a meeting at 11am.
  • Janice went home at lunchtime.
  • Do you think we will go to Mars in the future?
  • The workshop closes at midnight.
  • I'm just going to bed for an hour or so.
  • There's a meeting at 3.30 this afternoon / at lunch time.
  • There should be a lot of progress in the next century.
  • five past ten
  • Do you work on Saturdays?
  • Birds often migrate in spring and autumn.
  • My parents grew up in the 1960s.
  • The museum is open from 9.00 to 6.00 Wednesday to Sunday.
  • It gets cold at night.
  • My brother James was born on September 3rd.
  • I visited Italy in July, in spring, in 2004
  • My birthday falls in July.
  • Now that my grandfather is older, he no longer drives at night.
  • Where will you be on New Year's Eve?
  • In the evenings, I like to relax.
  • We’re going bowling on Saturday night.
  • This is the first cigarette I've had in five years.
  • It's thirty to six.
  • My great-grandmother was born in 1906.
  • Many shops don't open on Mondays.
  • We waited till / until half past seven for you.
  • In Paris, it often snows in December.
  • The town is always well-decorated at Christmas time.
  • The dinosaurs died out 75 million years ago.
  • Breakfast is a meal which is generally eaten in the morning.
  • What did you do on the weekend?
  • My vacation ends on Sunday.
  • We always have a huge celebration on New Year’s Day.
  • Her birthday is on 27 November.
  • She had promised to be back by four o'clock.
*Note that in some varieties of English people say "on the weekend" and "on Christmas".
Notice the use of the prepositions of time in and on in these common expressions:



                    in the morning                  on Sunday morning 
 in the mornings    on Tuesday mornings 
 in the afternoon(s)                     on Thursday afternoon(s)              
  in the evening(s)  on Friday evening(s) 

When we say every, last, next, this we do not also use at, in, on.
    • I went to England last June. (not in last June)
    • He's coming back next Monday. (not on next Tuesday)
    • I go home every Easter. (not at every Easter)
    • We'll call you this evening. (not in this evening)

Preposition of Time Exercises

Put in the correct preposition (choose in / on / at). 
  1. The weather is often terrible in United States  ________ February.
  2. It's better to get taxi if you are out alone  ________ night.
  3. They usually go to the south of Spain  ________ the summer.
  4. I had a party  ________my birthday..
  5. We're meeting  ________lunchtime  ________next Tuesday.
  6. Columbus sailed to the Americas  ________ the 16th century.
  7. The Beatles were popular  ________ the 1960s.
  8. I graduated from university  ________ 2003.
  9. His birthday is ________ June.
  10. I usually go to my parents' house  ________ Christmas. We eat turkey together  ________Christmas Day.
  11. The train leaves  ________ tomorrow morning  ________6:00 am...
  12. I love going skiing  ________ August.
  13. We met at the restaurant  ________7.30pm.
  14. The class is  ________8am  ________Monday mornings.
  15. I like to drink coffee  ________the morning and tea  ________the afternoon.
  16. We went out for dinner  ________last Wednesday.
  17. Lucky is arriving ________February the 14th ________ seven o'clock ________ the morning.
  18. She left Paris  ________the 5th of March.
  19. Damien went to New York  ________New Year.