How to Use Prepositions of Time and Date in English

Learn to use "in," "at" or "on"

If you're an English language learner, it's important that you learn how to use prepositions of time and date. These prepositions include "in," "at" or "on." If you're not sure how to use these parts of speech or simply want some practice, use the guide below to help you.

If possible, practice with a partner to help you retain the information. Now, let's get started!

How to Use the Preposition "In"  

You won't get very far in English without being able to use the preposition "in."  This part of speech can be used to refer to months, years and periods of time.

For example:

  • in January - Sarah was born in January.
  • in 1978 - Her aunt was born in 1978.
  • in the 1920s - Her great-grandmother was born in the 1920s.

The preposition "in" may also be used to refer to a period of time in the future:

  • in a few weeks - My mother was going on vacation in a few weeks. 
  • in a couple of days - I am going to see my best friend in a couple of days.

How to Use the Preposition "At"

The preposition "at" may be used to refer to a precise time. For example:

  • at six o'clock - The movie starts at six o'clock. 
  • at 10:30 - My father goes to bed at 10:30.
  • at two p.m. - My last class ends at two p.m.

How to Use the Preposition "On"

The preposition "on" may be used to refer to the days of the week. For example:

  • on Monday - On Monday, I am taking my dog for a run. 
  • on Fridays - On Fridays, I get my hair done. 

The preposition "on" may be used with specific calendar days as well. For example:

  • on Christmas Day - On Christmas Day, my family goes to church. 
  • on October 22nd - On October 22nd, I am going to buy a new television.

Notes to Remember

The English language does not always use the same rules. This is why it's important to remember how English speakers use prepositions with the following expressions:

in the morning / afternoon / evening - at night

While English speakers say "in the morning," "in the afternoon" or "in the evening," they do not say "in the night." Instead, they say "at night." It may not make sense, but it's an important rule to remember.

Test Your Understanding

Now that you've studied the use of prepositions of time and date--"in," "at," "on"-- test your understanding with a partner or classmate. You two can quiz each other on what you've just learned by asking about your future plans, your schedule or when you or your family members were born.

You might also try to watch an interview of a celebrity in English to see how often they use these prepositions in conversation. If that's too difficult, watching a children's show may be helpful as well.