Prepositions of time – in on at

ESL Pre-intermediate (A2), ESL Pre-intermediate Grammar (A2)

This article looks at the prepositions of time in, on and at and is suitable for students learning English at a pre-intermediate level (A2).

Below is an explanation of the prepositions of time at in on, together with some different examples. There then follows some resources and links, including prepositions of time worksheets.


The preposition in is used for non-specific times, such as months, seasons, years, and centuries, as well as most parts of the day.

For example:

[block]- I am visiting Paris in April this year.

– In summer we often go to the coast.

– In 1939, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany.

– Christopher Columbus discovered America in the 15th Century.

– He hates getting up in the morning.[/block]


The preposition on is used for a specific day or date.

For example:

– My daughter was born on 15th October, 2006.

– Her birthday is on Friday.

– We usually eat goose on Christmas day.


The preposition at is used for specific times and specific periods of time.

For example:

– I normally start work at 8.00 a.m.

– Make sure you are there at 9 o’clock sharp.

– She doesn’t like to go out at night.

– You need to put the clocks back at Midnight.

– I am going to visit my gran at the weekend.

– We like to sing carols at Christmas.

When not to use in, on and at

There are certain situations when the prepositions of time are no longer needed in a sentence, and this usually happens before the following words:

each, every, last, next, this

For example, when using ‘this’ in the following sentence to specify a particular month, we would write:

– I am visiting Paris this April.

and not:

I am visiting Paris in this April.

Likewise, when using ‘every’ in the following sentence to indicate that something is a regular occurrence, we would write:

– He hates getting up every morning.

and not:

– He hates getting up in every morning.

Here are some more examples of when not to use a preposition of time:

– He visited the Colosseum last weekend.

– I am going back to school next week.

Students should also take note that prepositions of time are also not used before “the day before yesterday“, “yesterday“, “today“, ‘tomorrow‘ or ‘the day after tomorrow‘.

For example:

– I was made redundant the day before yesterday.

– My auntie is visiting us tomorrow.

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If you would like to practice what you have learnt in this lesson and indeed other lessons that cover Prepositions of Time, then why don’t you check out our different ESL preposition worksheets.

We currently have the following Premium ESL Worksheets for sale:

Prepositions of Time: The Tower of London ($1.99 – Teacher License)

Here are some more resources for Prepositions of Time – at on in :

A List of Prepositions of Time – A pdf listing 150 prepositions, by Josef Essberger.
Prepositions of Time Exercises – Perfect English Grammar’s Time Prepositions.
Prepositions of Time Activities – Fun activities for prepositions of time.
Prepositions of Time Quiz – A fun quiz for in, on and at prepositions of time.

I hope that this article on Prepositions of time (in on at) has been of help to you and if so please take the time to share on your favourite social media channels. Also, if you have any questions or advice on this topic, then please put your thoughts in the comments section below, as I would love to hear from you.


About the author: David James Ault is a Teacher, Freelance Translator, Writer, Publisher and Internet Marketer and has created ESL Worksheets and English Lessons as a resource to help both teachers and students – If you have enjoyed this article, then why not sign up to the ESL Worksheets & Educational Resources mailing list (and get 5 Premium Worksheets while you are at it).

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