at – in – on (time)

at + exact time

in + part of day

on + particular day

at + weekend, public holiday

in + longer period

1. Exact times

  • I usually get up at six o’clock
  • I’ll meet you at 4.15
  • Phone me at lunch time

In informal English, we say What time…?
(At what time…? is correct, but unusual.)

2. Parts of the day

  • I work best in the morning
  • three o’clock in the afternoon
  • we usually go out in the evening

Exception: at night.

We use on if we say which morning/ afternoon/ etc we are talking about,
or if we describe the morning/ afternoon/ etc.

  • See you on Monday morning
  • It was on a cold afternoon in early spring…

3. Days

  • I’ll phone you on Tuesday.
  • My birthday’s on March 21st.
  • They’re having a party on Christmas Day.

In informal speech we sometimes leave out on (This is common in American English)

  • I’m seeing her Sunday morning.

Note the use of plurals (Sundays, Mondays etc)
when we talk about repeated actions.

  • We usually go to see Granny on Sundays.

4. Weekends and public holidays

We use at to talk about the whole of the holidays at Christmas, New Year,
Easter and Thanksgiving (US)

  • Are you going away at Easter?

We use on to talk about one day of the holiday

  • It happened on Easter Monday.

British people say at the weekend. Americans use on.

  • What did you do at the weekend?

5. Longer periods

  • It happened in the week after  Christmas
  • I was born in March
  • Kent is beautiful in spring
  • He died in 1212
  • Our house was built in the 12th Century

6. Expressions without preposition

Prepositions are not used in expressions of time before
next, last, this, one, any, each, every, some, all.

  • See you next week.
  • Are you free this morning
  • Let’s meet one day.
  • Come any time
  • I’m at home every morning.
  • We stayed all day.

Prepositions are not used before yesterday, the day before yesterday,
tomorrow, the day after tomorrow

  • What are you doing the day after tomorrow?

In time or on time?

Sometimes two prepositions can be used with the same noun, but the meaning is different.

  • Lessons begin at 8.30 and I always arrive on time. (= at 8.30)
  • Lessons begin at 8.30 and I always get there in time. (= before 8.30; I’m not late)
  • In the end we went home. (= finally, after a long period)
  • At the end of the book they get married.
  • The two men are in business. (= they are businessmen)
  • The two men are in Germany on business. (= they are there for work and not for a holiday)
  • I’ll see you in a moment. (= very soon)
  • I can’t speak to you at the moment. (= right now)

On time and in time

On time = punctual, not late.
If something happens on time, it happens at the time which was planned:

  • The 11.45 train left on time. (= it left at 11.45)
  • Til meet you at 7.30.’   ‘OK, but please be on time.’ (= don’t be late, be there at 7.30
  • The conference was well-organised. Everything began and finished on time.

The opposite of on time is late:

  • Be on time. Don’t be late.

In time (for something / to do something) = soon enough:

  • Will you be home in time for dinner?
    (= soon enough for dinner)
  • I’ve sent Emma a birthday present. 1 hope it arrives in time (for her birthday).
    (= on or before her birthday)
  • I’m in a hurry. I want to be home in time to see the game on television.
    (= soon enough to see the game)

The opposite of in time is too late:

  • I got home too late to see the game on television.

You can say just in time (= almost too late):

  • We got to the station just in time for our train.
  • A child ran into the road in front of the car – I managed to stop just in time.

List O

official or officious? OFFICIAL = authorised, formal
an OFFICIAL visit
an OFFICIAL invitation
OFFICIOUS = fussy, self-important,
an OFFICIOUS secretary
an OFFICIOUS waiter
onto or on to? There are circumstances when the words
must always be written separately. We
will consider these first.
” Always write the words separately if
‘to’ is part of an infinitive (e.g. to eat,
to speak, to be, to watch, etc.):
She drove ON TO test the brakes.
As a matter of interest you can
double-check the ‘separateness’ of the
two words by separating them further:
She drove ON because she wanted TO
test the breaks.
” Always write the words separately
when ‘to’ means ‘towards’:
We cycled ON TO Oxford.
Once again, the two words can be
further separated:
We cycled ON the few remaining
miles TO Oxford.
” It is permissible to write ‘onto’ or ‘on
to’ when you mean ‘to a position on’:
The acrobat jumped ONTO the
The acrobat jumped ON TO the
It should be borne in mind, however, that
many careful writers dislike ‘onto’ and
always use ‘on to’.
‘Onto’ is more common in American
English but with the cautions expressed

other and others

When other is an adjective, it has no plural.

  • Where are the other photos? (NOT… the others photos?)
  • Have you got any other colours?

When other is used alone, without a noun, it can have a plural.

  • Some grammars are easier to understand than others.
  • I’ll be late. Can you tell the others.