Prepositions of Time

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Prepositions of Time

What is a preposition of time?

A preposition of time is a preposition used to denote when something happens, either specifically or generally.

The most commonly used prepositions of time are at, in, and on.

AT is used for a specific or precise time.

IN is used with larger units of time, such as months, years, decades, centuries, etc.

ON is used for dates or specific days of the week.

What are some examples of prepositions of time?

Use the following chart to guide your use of the three common prepositions:

(specific time)
(larger units of time)
(dates & days)
…at 9 o’clock.…in January.…on Wednesday.
…at 1 p.m.…in 2020.…on Thursdays.
…at midnight.…in the 90s.…on February 20th.
…at lunchtime.…in the previous century.…on December 25, 2022.
…at sunset.…in the Ming Dynasty.…on Valentine’s Day.
…at the moment.…in the future.…on my birthday.

Are there any exceptions to these rules?

Yes! There are standard expressions that fall outside the above guidelines. Here are some examples:

Standard ExpressionExample
…at night.The moon comes out at night.
…at Thanksgiving.I travel to my mom’s house at Thanksgiving.
…at the same time.We finished the race at the same time.
…at present.I’m not working at present.
…in the afternoons.We go to the library in the afternoons.
…in the evening.She takes a nap in the evening.

Are there other prepositions of time?

Yes! Here is a quick list of other prepositions of time:

at, in, on, by, during, for, from…to, from…until, since, with, within

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