Basic Prepositions: Time and Place - at, in, on and to

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'At, in, on' and ''to' are used as both time prepositions and place prepositions in English. Read the paragraph below and learn the rules of when to use these prepositions in the chart. Finally, take the quiz to check your understanding. Make sure to notice important exceptions such as "at night" or small differences between British and American English

Here's a story that will help you learn.

I was born in Seattle, Washington on the 19th of April in 1961.

Seattle is in the State of Washington in the United States. That was many years ago... Now, I live in Leghorn in Italy. I work at the British School. I sometimes go to a movie on the weekend. I meet my friends at the movie theater at 8 o'clock or later. In the summer, usually in August, I go home to visit my family in America. My family and I go to the beach and relax in the sun in the morning and in the afternoon! In the evening, we often eat at a restaurant with our friends. Sometimes, we go to a bar at night. On other weekends, I drive to the countryside. We like to meet friends at a restaurant for dinner. In fact, we'll meet some friends at a great Italian restaurant on Sunday!

In

Use "in" with months of the year: 

I was born in April.
She left for school in September.
Peter will fly to Texas in March.

With seasons: 

I like skiing in winter.
He enjoys playing tennis in Spring.
They take a vacation in summer.

With countries:

He lives in Greece.
The company is located in Canada.
She went to school in Germany.

With city or town names:

He has a house in New York.
I was born in Seattle. 
He works in San Francisco.

With times of the day - 

I wake up early in the morning.
She goes to school in the afternoon.
Peter sometimes plays softball in the evening.

Important exception!

Use at with night:

The sleep at night.
He likes to go out at night.

On

Use "on" with specific days of the week or year:

We'll meet on Friday.
What do you do on New Year's Day?
He played basketball on March 5th.

American English - "on the weekend OR on weekends"

At

Use "at" with specific times of the day:

Let's meet at 7 o'clock.
He has a meeting at 6.15.
She went to a party at night.

Use "at" with specific places in a city:

We met at school.
Let's meet him at the restaurant.
He works at a hospital. 

British English - "at the weekend OR at weekends"

TO    

Use "to" with verbs which show movement such as go and come.

He goes to school.
She returned to the store.
They are coming to the party tonight.

Quiz

Fill in the gaps in this paragraph with the prepositions - in, on, at or to. After you finish, look at the answers below in bold. 

  1. Janet was born _____ Rochester _____  December 22nd _____ 3 o'clock _____ the morning. 
  2. Rochester is _____ the state of New York _____ the United States. 
  3. Now, she goes _____ classes _____ the university.
  4. She usually arrives _____ the morning _____ 8 o'clock. 
  5. _____ weekends, she likes driving _____ her friend's house _____ Canada. 
  6. Her friend lives _____ Toronto. 
  7. She usually arrives _____ 9 _____ the evening and leaves _____ Sunday morning. 
  1. _____ Saturday, they often meet friends _____  a restaurant. 
  2. _____ night, they sometimes go _____ a disco. 
  3. _____ summer, _____ July for example, they often go _____ the countryside.

Answers

  1. Janet was born in Rochester on  December 22nd at 3 o'clock in the morning. 
  2. Rochester is in the state of New York in the United States. 
  3. Now, she goes to classes at the university.
  4. She usually arrives in the morning at 8 o'clock. 
  5. On weekends, she likes driving to her friend's house in Canada. 
  6. Her friend lives in Toronto. 
  7. She usually arrives at 9 in the evening and leaves on Sunday morning. 
  8. On Saturday, they often meet friends at  a restaurant. 
  9. at night, they sometimes go to a disco. 
  10. In summer, In July for example, they often go to the countryside.

Write some sentences about your life!

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Basic Prepositions: Time and Place - at, in, on and to." ThoughtCo, Apr. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/time-and-place-at-in-on-and-to-4056544. Beare, Kenneth. (2017, April 25). Basic Prepositions: Time and Place - at, in, on and to. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/time-and-place-at-in-on-and-to-4056544 Beare, Kenneth. "Basic Prepositions: Time and Place - at, in, on and to." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/time-and-place-at-in-on-and-to-4056544 (accessed September 20, 2017).