MarkESOL 5 minute grammar lesson – PREPOSITIONS OF TIME – USING AT, IN, ON

Here is another video for your lockdown learning.

Below the exercises is the Google Doc transcript from today’s 5-minute grammar lesson. Extra teacher talk from the video not included!

Prepositions of time – when to use IN, ON and AT. Again, small words = big problems.

But no more. Spend 5 minutes watching this and never make a mistake again! Maybe…

Here are your online exercises:


Today’s video Google Doc transcript

MarkESOL 5 minute grammar lesson. 


Today we’re going to be covering:

  1.   Prepositions of time basics
  2. When to use IN.
  3. When to use ON.
  4. When to use AT.
  5. Sentence structure.
  6. When to use THE
  7.  What to do when you’re not sure = ABOUT, AROUND, SOME TIME

Another easy one today. Here it is – the simple rules

  1. If you are talking about a large amount of time – use IN.

If you are talking about a day – not part of a day – use ON.

If you are talking about a specific point in time – use AT.

That’s it. Done. Let’s all go home. 

We’re going to make it EASY. After watching this video you will never get IN, AT, ON confused again. Hopefully.

Sometimes it’s the little words that are the most confusing, so let’s take a few minutes to go through it.

  1. When to use IN. 

When we’re talking about prepositions of place we say, “I’m in a field. I’m in Manchester. I’m living in England.” You’re in a place. In the middle of it.

It’s the same with time. If we’re in the middle of some period of time we say in:

I’m going on holiday in July. 

A day in July, but not a specific day. It could be July 1st, it could be 15th July, it could be the end of July.

I either don’t know, or it’s not important. Then it’s the same if we’re talking about the past:

I moved to London IN 2018.

It was one day IN 2018 – it’s really not important when. 

All periods of time we use IN:

Centuries: 100 years – we’re living IN the 21st century.

Shakespeare was born IN the 16th century. He was born ON April 26th 1564.

Decades: 10 years – I used to love going to raves IN the 90s. (1990s)

Any period of time: years, a year, a month, weeks, seasons, the future, the past, or even parts of the day.

He usually goes for a jog IN the morning, then works IN the afternoon and sometimes IN the evening.

We use IN if we’re talking about every night, every morning or every afternoon. We use ON if it’s a specific evening or night.

I want to visit Australia IN the future.

I can’t get up IN the morning, I’m too tired!

  1. ON – Use this for days.

I play football ON Sunday.

Some people say,

 “I play football on Sundays.”

Both are right. Both mean you play football every Sunday. 

If it’s just one time you’d say:

‘I’m playing football on Sunday morning.” 

Present simple for habit; present continuous for future plan.

Use ON for any specific day. On your wedding anniversary, on New Year’s Eve, on July 4th. We use ON for part of a SPECIFIC day as well.

What are you doing ON Friday night?

  1. When do we use AT?

We use AT for a specific time and for holidays when we don’t say the day.

“I’ll meet you AT quarter past eight.”

“Oh, that’s too late! I have to go to work AT 8 o’clock!”

We also use AT for named times of the day:

Midnight (12:00 am)

Midday (12.00 pm)

Dawn (sun rise)

Dusk (sun set)

Or at work or college you might have fixed times:

I’ll get a drink AT break. (AT break time)

I saw him AT lunch time.

We also use AT for the days when we have longer holidays: Christmas, New Year, Easter, Eid, Divali.

I usually go to my parent’s house ON Easter Sunday, but next year I’m going to Scotland AT Easter.

Another interesting use is we say AT the weekend.

‘My flatmate stays at her girlfriend’s place at the weekend. I hate being alone AT the weekend.’

In America they say ON the weekend. This is wrong. I don’t need to explain this! No!

6. When to use THE

The holidays (Easter, Summer, Christmas)

The 1980s (a decade)

The 1600s (a century)

The future/the past (I want to develop an App in the future.)

The weekend

The moment

The morning, the afternoon, the evening – but NOT usually – night or night time. 

‘I work IN THE morning, I watch Netflix IN THE evening and I sleep AT night.’

At night = general – all night

IN THE night = when you are talking about time of the night time. When you are awake usually. 

You can use either so don’t worry too much about this!

‘I wake up in the night, so I feel rough in the morning.’

‘Do you? I sleep like a baby at night.’

7. What to do when you’re not sure = ABOUT, AROUND, SOME TIME

When someone asks you a question and they want a specific time or date and you don’t know you use one of these phrases:

About – for time

Around – for time, dates, months, years

Some time – dates, months, years


‘Hi Mark, sorry I’m late. When did you get here?’

‘Oh, no worries. I only got here ABOUT ten minutes ago. I got the bus ABOUT midday.’

‘How long have you been living in Longsight?’

‘Errmmm, AROUND two and a half years. I think I moved in SOME TIME in the autumn. Yeah, kids were knocking on the door trick or treating. It was AROUND Halloween time I seem to remember.’

That’s all we’ve got time for!

IN (BIGGER TIME PERIODS)Centuries, Decades, Years, Months, Weeks, Seasons, past, future, holidays, parts of the day
ON(DAYS & PART OF DAYS)Monday etcHolidays & specific days The weekendFriday afternoon
AT(TIME, PARTS OF THE DAY AND SPECIAL DAYS)Time,Named parts of the day: midday,Holiday times – not days: at Easter, at Christmas


MarkESOL xxx

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