At, on, in (time)

At/on/in (time)

Compare at, on and in:
• We arrived at 4 o’clock.
• I arrived on Monday.
• She arrived in June. / He arrived in 1974.
We use at for the time of day
  • at 7 o’clock
• at dinnertime
• at dawn
• at 9.33
• at noon

We use on for days and dates
• on Monday / on Monday
• on his birthday
• on Christmas Day
• on 13 April 1986

We use in for longer periods (for instance, seasons/months/years)
• in January
• in 2011
• in (the) summer
• in the 1960s
• in the Middle Ages
• in the 16th century
• in the past
• in (the) future


We use at in the following expressions:

  at night • She never goes out at night.
  at the weekend / at weekends • Will they be here at the weekend?
  at Christmas / at Easter • Do you give each other presents at Christmas?
   (but on Christmas Day)
  at the moment / at present • The supervisor is busy at the moment / at present.
  at the same time • Sally and John arrived at the same time

Note that we usually ask “What time…?” (NOT usually  “At what time…?”):
• What time will they be back tomorrow?

We say:

  in the morning(s) • We’ll talk in the morning.
  in the afternoon(s) • What do you do in the afternoon?
  in the evening(s) • Do you work in the evenings?
  on Tuesday morning(s) • I’ll be at home on Tuesday morning.
  on Sunday afternoon(s) • Do you usually go out on Sunday afternoons?
  on Monday evening(s) • Will you come regularly on Monday evenings?


We do not use at/on/in before last/next/this/every
• We’ll visit you next Satruday.   NOT  “on next Saturday”
• They got together last April.   NOT  “in last April”

In a few minutes / in six months etc. = a time in the future
• The plain will be leaving in a few hours. (= a few hours from now)
• Jill has gone away. She’ll be back in a year. (= a year from now)
• They’ll arrive in a moment. (= a moment from now)

You can also say “in six months’ time“, “in a week’s time” etc.
• They’re getting married in six months’ time. (OR …in six months.)
• She’s going away in a week’s time. (OR …in a week.)

We also use in… to say how long it takes to do something
• I learnt to play the piano in three months. (= it took me three months to learn)
• He prepared the meaI in a few minutes. (= it took him minutes to prepare it)