In English, prepositions are words that specify how other elements within a sentence relate to each other. They can express location, time, or other relationships between words. The use of different prepositions often changes the meaning of a sentence. In this tutorial, we're going to specifically look at prepositions of time. These prepositions help specify when something happened, when something will happen, or the duration of something happening.
Major Prepositions of Time
The main prepositions of time are at, in, and, on. Below, we'll describe how they are generally used:
- At: We use 'at' for specific time points.
- In: This preposition is applicable for longer periods, such as months, seasons, years, or times of day (except for night).
- On: It is used for specific days, dates, and holidays.
Understanding the Usage of 'At', 'In', and 'On'
Usage of Preposition 'At'
We generally use 'at' in the context of specific times on the clock, time of events, and with the word 'night'. Let's examine some examples:
- I will meet you at 5pm.
- The meeting is scheduled at 10:30 am.
- She goes to the gym at night.
- The event starts at dusk.
- We arrived at midnight.
Usage of Preposition 'In'
This preposition is typically used when referring to periods that will last for some time. It's also used with parts of the day, years, seasons, and months. Take a look at these examples:
- We swim in the morning.
- The flowers bloom in spring.
- They will visit us in December.
- I was born in 1985.
- We'll go for a vacation in the summer.
- The conference is in two weeks.
Usage of Preposition 'On'
We tend to use 'on' with particular days, dates, and holidays. Here are some examples to illustrate this:
- They are coming on Monday.
- His birthday is on the 20th of June.
- We had a barbecue on Independence Day.
- I have a meeting on Christmas day.
Beyond 'At', 'In', and 'On': Other Prepositions of Time
While 'at', 'in', and 'on' are commonly used prepositions of time, there are others, such as 'during', 'for', 'since', 'by', 'till/until', and 'from…to'. These can help express a more complex relationship in time:
- During: This preposition expresses 'throughout the period of' or 'at some time in'. For example, "I snuck out during the meeting."
- For: It is used to express a duration of time. For instance, "He studied for three hours."
- Since: We use 'since' to represent the start of a period up to now. For example, "I haven't seen her since Easter."
- By: This preposition marks a deadline. For instance, "I will finish the project by Friday."
- Till/Until: These two express how long a situation continues. For example, "She will be on leave until July."
- From…to: These denote the beginning and end of a period. For instance, "The store is open from 9am to 5pm."
Understanding prepositions of time allows us to express complex time relationships between different parts of a sentence. This might seem daunting, but with practice, you can become proficient in using them! Remember to pay attention to each preposition's unique usage, as incorrect placement can significantly impact your sentence's meaning. Happy learning!