Prepositions of TIME 👉 in / on / at / by


Hello! This is Emma from mmmEnglish,

back with another lesson

on the mmmEnglish YouTube channel.

Now a few weeks ago

I made a video lesson using articles in English.

If you missed it, you can watch it up here.

But in that video, I said that

articles are one of the

biggest problems for English students

because they are the cause of

so many grammar mistakes!

And it's true!

As a University English teacher,

I saw these mistakes all the time!


coming very close behind mistakes with articles

are mistakes with prepositions.

Now, prepositions are words

like these

in, on, at,




over under



There are many of them in English

and like articles,

prepositions are difficult to understand.

Sometimes the reasons why you should choose one

over another,

it's not really obvious.

And sometimes there are

exceptions and differences depending on

who you actually talk to

whether they speak American English or

British English.

So what's the secret to these prepositions?

How can you possibly know

when and how

to use them correctly?

Well, the answer might not be one that you like.

There's no simple rule,

there's no one answer.

Prepositions need to be learnt in context

with the other words that they're used with.

Trying to understand

why we say

"in the car" and

"on the bus"

will only end in tears and frustrations!

By learning the phrase

"in the car"

together, all together

will make it easier to remember it

and also to get it right every time.

You're not thinking about which preposition

but you're remembering the phrase.

All of the words together.

Now last week I talked about these prepositions

in, on, at

and by.

But all when they're used to talk about place

or the position of something.

Let's meet at the library.

He's in the kitchen.

I'll see you on the bus.

He's waiting by the car.

If you missed that lesson,

you can catch it up here.

But today we're going to focus on these

same prepositions

but for when they give information about time.

I'll be there in five minutes.

I'll meet you at 3pm

on Thursday.

We need to be there

by noon.

So first,

let's go over the main points

that we need to remember.

"At" is used in reference

to specific times on the clock

or points of time in the day.

"In" usually refers to

periods of time.

And "on" is used

with dates and named days of the week.

And "by" is used

specifically with an end point of time

and it means

no later than.

Let's start with "at".

Use "at" for very specific times.

Clock times for example.

The train arrives at 3:30.

The party starts at midnight.

The meeting will finish at 5:30.

I'll be there at noon

or at midday

at midnight

at dawn

at dusk.

All of these words refer to

specific time

but we can also use "at" with

other specific times of the day, like

He doesn't like driving at night.

I'm going shopping at lunchtime.

I read my daughter a story at bedtime.

Let's talk about it at dinner tonight.

So there, I just called the time


It's not the meal name there,

I'm using the time.

We'll talk about it at dinner

time, tonight.

But often it's not spoken.

One thing that you must be careful about is with

morning, afternoon

evening and night.

We say "at night"

but for all of these other times of the day

we say

"in the morning"

"in the afternoon"

"in the evening"


- and don't forget the article as well, right?

Now there's also some really common

fixed expressions

that use the preposition "at"

when you're referring to

a specific point in time.

She's working at the moment.

So when you're talking about

an action that is happening around the present moment,

you're not using "in the moment"

- all the Italians out there!

In the moment, I'm working on a very interesting project.


It's "at the moment"

At the moment,

I'm working on a very interesting project.

She's a little busy at present,

can I get her to call you back?

It's quite formal

but "at present" means at this time.

I finish the course at the end of April.

So "at the end of" or "at the

start of" a period of time

is also a common way

to refer to a

specific point in time.

Note that if you say something happened in the middle

of a period of time,

you need to use the preposition


But I'll talk more about that in a moment.

We arrived at the same time.

So we use "at the same time"

to say that two separate actions

happened simultaneously

- at one time.

Okay let's talk about the preposition "in".

"In" is used for periods of time,

so seasons or months

or even longer periods of time

like centuries or decades or years.

I was born in 1986.

He'll visit them in October.

The ski resort is closed in summer.

He grew up in the seventies.

That's the period of time between 1970 and 1980.

It happened in the 16th century.

Don't worry,

it all happened in the past.

Just as we use "in" for periods of time

we also use it for periods of time

during the day

when we're not being specific.


They're leaving in the evening.

The baby sleeps in the afternoon.

I work most productively in the morning.

But compare this to

I start work at 9am.

So there's specific time and there's kind of general time.

We can also use "in" to describe

the amount of time needed to do something.

So again, we're talking about a

period of time.

A period of time.

They managed to complete the job in two weeks.

You can drive around the island in a day.

We can also use "in" to explain

when something will happen in the future.

I'll be ready in five minutes.

He's gone away but he'll be back in a couple of days.

You can collect your parcel in a week.

Now remember I told you earlier

that if you're using the expression

at the end of or at the start of something

you need to use the preposition "at".

At the start of July.

Return it to me at the end of the day.

But, if you're referring to the middle of a period of time

your preposition needs to be "in"

"in the middle"

In the middle of June .

Or it's too hot to go out in the middle of the day.

Okay, here's another really common fixed expression.

"In time"

You'll hear it all the time!

We made it in time.

Luckily, we arrived just in time.

This means that you weren't late

or you arrived just before the event started.

Don't confuse this with

"on time"

which is another fixed expression

Please arrive on time.

This means at the starting time,

not later.

If you're told to arrive on time,

don't be late!

The teacher told them to arrive on time.

And even though they slept in,

they arrived just in time!

Now let's explore

more about this preposition now.


In English we can use this preposition for

specific descriptions of time.

Most commonly with days of the week

and parts of days of the week.

She's working on Monday.

That's a specific and a unique time.

She usually works on Mondays.

By using the plural form there,

I'm suggesting that this is a regular event.

It happens every week.

We're going to the theatre on Wednesday evening.

Let's have a coffee on Friday morning.

It's his birthday on Saturday.

So note that in spoken English

"on" is often omitted in context like this.

She's working Monday.

So don't be confused if

suddenly when someone says a sentence like this

you can't hear the preposition.

In spoken English, it's often dropped.

"On" is also used with dates.

The interview is on the 29th of April.

He was born on February 14th.

It's also used with special days.

She was born on Valentine's Day.

We're moving house on Christmas Eve.

I have an exam on my birthday.

But here's another little exception

that you need to keep in mind.

When you're talking about festivals and

about special periods of time,

you can use "at".

So, are you going home at Christmas?

So that's talking about the time around Christmas.

If you're referring to the specific day,

you need to use "on".

On Christmas Day.

On New Year's Eve.

What are you doing on New Year's Day?

What are you doing at New Year's?

Now this question is more general,

you're referring to the period of time

around this holiday

usually there is a few days where

everyone's not working and

they're relaxing and hanging out so

"on Year's Day" means specifically that day

but if you say

"at New Year's"

you just mean the time around that day.

Another fixed expression

that can be a little bit confusing is

"at or on the weekend".

What are you doing on the weekend?

is more common in American English and

What are you doing at the weekend?

is more common in British English.

But either way, you'll be understood.

Both of them mean the same thing.

But it's good to know that there are

two different ways to express this.

And lastly, "by" .

Our last little preposition

is very useful to give information about time.

You can use "by" with the end time of an activity.

The show should be finished by 9pm.

It means no later than.

So when it's used with a specific time,

it can mean on or before that time.

Please return these books by Friday.

That means no later than Friday.

So let's recap.

Let's go over everything that we learnt in this lesson

because it was a lot to take in!

"At" is generally used in reference to

specific times on the clock

or specific points of time in the day.

"In" generally refers to longer periods of time.

"On" is used with dates or named days.

And "by" is used with times and named days

but specifically telling us an end time.

Well that's it for this lesson!

I hope that it's been good revision for you

to remind yourself about the correct way to

use these really common English prepositions

that give more information about time.

Now if you've got any questions at all,

put them in the comments below

and I will try to answer them as soon as I can.

If you really love

the mmmEnglish Channel and you enjoy my lessons,

then please make sure you

subscribe just here or here.

And check out

some of the other lessons that I've prepared.

This playlist here is full of grammar videos

and this one here will

help you to practice your speaking skills.

Thanks for watching and I will see you in the next lesson.

Bye for now!

Кликнете на сите непознати зборови за да го дознаете нивниот превод и разберете нивното значење во сегашниот контекст.
За превод на фрази, притиснете Ctrl и кликнете на повеќе зборови.