At, IN and ON: Prepositions of Time and Place

AT, IN, ON are used as both time prepositions and place prepositions in English...


I. Preposions of Time - AT / IN / ON

  The preposition AT is used in the following descriptions of time:

      1. With clock times

  • My last train leaves at 10:30.
  • We left at midnight.
  • The meeting starts at two thirty.
  • With specific times of day, or mealtimes
  • He doesn’t like driving at night.
  • I’ll go shopping at lunchtime.

2. With festivals

  • Are you going home at Christmas/Easter?

3. In certain fixed expressions which refer to specific points in time

  • Are you leaving at the weekend?
  • He’s unavailable at present.
  • I finish the course at the end of April.

The preposition IN is used in the following descriptions of time:

1. With months, years, seasons, and longer periods of time

  • I was born in 1965.
  • We’re going to visit them in May.
  • The play is set in the Middle Ages.

2. With periods of time during the day

  • He’s leaving in the morning.
  • She usually has a sleep in the afternoon.
  • I tried to work in the evening.

3. To describe the amount of time needed to do something

  • They managed to finish the job in two weeks.
  • You can travel there and back in a day.

4. To indicate when something will happen in the future:

  • She’ll be ready in a few minutes.
  • He’s gone away but he’ll be back in a couple of days.

The preposition ON is used in the following descriptions of time:

   1. With days of the week, and parts of days of the week

  • I’ll see you on Friday.
  • She usually works on Mondays.
  • We’re going to the theatre on Wednesday evening.

2. With dates

  • The interview is on 29th April.
  • He was born on February 14th, 1995.

3. With special days

  • She was born on Valentine’s Day.
  • We move house on Christmas Eve.
  • I have an exam on my birthday.

II. Prepositions of Place - AT / IN / ON

The preposition AT is used in the following descriptions of place/position:

1. With specific places/points in space

  • She kept the horse at a nearby farm.
  • Angie’s still at home.
  • I’ll meet you at reception.

2. With public places and shops

  • Jane’s at the dentist/hairdresser.
  • I studied German at college/school/university.
  • Shall I meet you at the station?

3. With addresses

  • They live at 70, Duncombe Place.

4. With events

  • I met her at last year’s conference. She wasn’t at Simon’s party.

The preposition IN is used in the following descriptions of place/position:

1. With geographical regions

  • Driving in France is very straightforward.
  • With cities, towns and larger areas
  • Do you like living in Nottingham?

2. With buildings/rooms and places that can be thought of as surrounding a person or object on all sides

  • Can you take a seat in the waiting room, please?
  • I’ve left my bag in the office.
  • There’s a wedding in the church this afternoon.


3. With containers

  • There’s fresh milk in the fridge.
  • I think I’ve got a tissue in my pocket.
  • The money is in the top drawer of my desk.

4. With liquids and other substances, to show what they contain

  • Do you take milk in your coffee?
  • I can taste garlic in this sauce.
  • There’s a lot of fat in cheese and butter.

The preposition ON is used in the following descriptions of place/position:

1. With surfaces, or things that can be thought of as surfaces

  • The letter is on my desk.
  • There was a beautiful painting on the wall.
  • The toy department is on the first floor.

2. With roads/streets, or other things that can be thought of as a line, e.g. rivers

  • The bank is on the corner of King’s Street.
  • Bournemouth is on the south coast.
  • It’s the second turning on the left.

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At, IN and ON: Prepositions of Time and Place

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