As you watch the video, look at the examples of prepositions of time. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, prepositions of time correctly.
We use many different prepositions for talking about time. Here we are looking at: in, on, at, during and for.
We use in, on and at for lots of different times. Here’s a table comparing the uses:
Months: in January / in April
Days of the week: on Monday
Clock times: at 7.30 a.m. / at 5 o’clock
Wow! That’s a lot of uses! So I have to learn all those?
Yes, but you probably know most of them, don’t you?
Yes, maybe … Is that all of them? I mean, are there any exceptions?
Well, sometimes we don’t use a preposition of time, for example after next/this/last/every.
We go skateboarding every Saturday afternoon.
I’ll see you next Friday.
Mm, but I could also say: “I’ll see you on Friday.”
Oh yes, that's fine too. But we often leave out on with days of the week when we’re speaking.
I’ll see you Friday.
OK. Now, about dates ... You write “on 8th July” but how do you say that?
Good question! We say “on the eighth of July”.
OK, so I have to remember to say “on THE eighth OF July”.
One last question about in. Can I use it for the future, as in “I’ll do it in a minute”?
Yes, that’s very common. We use in for talking about something in the future a certain length of time from now.
She’ll be back in a moment.
We’re going away in two weeks.
And can I say, “We’re going away for two weeks”?
Yes, but the meaning is completely different.
We’re going away in two weeks. (= we leave two weeks from now)
We’re going away for two weeks. (= our holiday will be two weeks long)
Ah, and what about “We’re going away during two weeks”?
No, you can’t say that. We use for + a length of time, to say how long something goes on for, and during + a noun / noun phrase, to say when something happens.
It snowed for three hours.
It snowed during the night.
OK, that’s a useful rule. But, hang on, I can also say “It snowed in the night”.
And: “I did a lot of work in the holidays” or “I did a lot of work during the holidays”?
Yes, you’ve got the hang of this.
Good, so now I’m going to study for a few hours. I’ll see you on Tuesday, in the morning, at about 10 o’clock.
See you at some time during the morning!
Worksheets and downloads
Daisy: Hi, Mum, How's it going?
Sophie: Fine thanks, honey. How was school?
Daisy: Good. I've got a note for you from Mr Oliveira.
Sophie: Who's Mr Oliveira? Your Portuguese teacher?
Daisy: I don't study Portuguese, Mum. You know that.
Sophie: True. But you could. It's a very useful language. They speak it in Brazil ...
Daisy: Mum, he's the new headmaster at college. And he isn't Portuguese – or Brazilian. He's British. But I think he said his parents are from Goa.
Sophie: Goa? Wow. The headmaster ... Ah yes, I remember him. I met him at Christmas when I went to your school for that concert. In December, anyway. A very nice man, yes.
Daisy: Mum ...
Sophie: It would be good to speak to him about his parents' country. I could interview him, then visit Goa in summer … no, too hot maybe ... in autumn ...
Daisy: Well, he'd like to see you again too.
Daisy: He wants you to go into school on Monday or Tuesday next week.
Sophie: Oh? Have you done something wrong?
Daisy: No, of course not! You know me. He wants to ask if you can give a talk about your work and your blog, your travels, that sort of thing. One day in April, during Careers Week.
Sophie: So on Monday or Tuesday? What time?
Daisy: In the afternoon or in the early evening. At 5 o'clock, if you can.
Sophie: Hmm. I can go at half past four on Tuesday, if that's OK.
Daisy: I'll ask.
Sophie: Let me see. I'm away in Moscow for three days in April ... but during your school holidays, I think. I'm going to Russia to write about traditions at Easter – oh, and then I'm away again at the end of the month. But I'm at home for two or three weeks. I can't go on Monday evening, because I have a tai chi class, and then I have to work at night. I have a video call at midnight ... Yes, definitely. I'll go in on Tuesday afternoon.
Daisy: Can you write a note or send him an email, please?
Sophie: I'll phone him during the day tomorrow. I'm free for a few hours in the morning.
Daisy: OK, I'll tell him. Where are you?
Sophie: Here in town. I'm at the travel agent's. I'm chatting to your friend Jenna – I hadn't seen her for months! I didn't know she was working here; she's organising my flights to Russia. Do you want to speak to her?
Daisy: No, it's OK, I'll see her at the weekend. We're going to a party on Saturday night.
Sophie: OK, well I'll be home in about an hour – at about 7 o'clock probably. Pizza and a DVD tonight?
Tell us about your favourite day of the week. What time do you get up? What do you do, and when? What is the best part of the day for you?