Lisa's week: Quick Tip of the Week – prepositions of time
Every now and again, I’m going to give you a quick tip about a wrongly used word/s, a false friend or a typical mistake. These are the common errors I hear many times a week and which land on my mistake bingo card!
This week, it’s all about those pesky little words that we use with time. Or at least a few of them. I’m talking about prepositions and I find myself correcting the use of them on a very regular basis.
Now the thing with English grammar is that there are many irregularities which can make it difficult to learn and therefore, use correctly. But I think you’ll find that these three small words are actually quite regular and should be easier to learn. Or so the logic goes.
So, let’s have a look at using “at”, “on” and “in” with time words and see if we can bring clarity to the topic.
At + specific point in time
Here, we are talking about specific times of the day, the week or even the year.
- At 9am
- At half past four
- At 11.45
- At night
- At midday
- At Christmas
- At sunrise
- At the moment
- At lunchtime
- At the same time
- At the weekend - British English
On + specific day or date
This is used when we talk about a specific day of the week, month or year, or a specific date.
- On Monday
- On 1st January
- On my birthday
- On Easter Sunday
- On Christmas Eve
- On Saturday evening - here the day (Saturday) takes priority over the period of time (evening)
- On Fridays
- On 31st December 1999
- On the weekend – US English
In + period of time
In is used with longer periods of time such as parts of the day, months, seasons, years
- In the afternoon
- In July
- In the summer
- In 2012
- In the Middle Ages
- In the past
- In the future
- In the 1980s
While one or two of these might seem a little strange for German speakers – for example, saying “12 o’clock at night” but “2am in the morning”, most of these follow the basic rules highlighted above which can be a relief for a lot of my students!
However, if we have an expression such as “last week”, then there is NO preposition needed. This is the same for last/next/every/this. So we would say:
- I met John last week. (NOT: I met John in last week)
- Let’s have the meeting next Monday.
- She plays tennis every Friday evening
- Call me this afternoon when I’ve got time to talk.
So, there you have it. With so many grammar rules that have my students scratching their heads, I hope you’ll agree with me that this quick tip is relatively easy to learn and use.
So, have a great time at the weekend, enjoy resting on Saturday afternoon and get up late in the morning!
What is Lisa's week?
"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"
Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday
Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?
Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?
Episode 4: The sound of London
Episode 5: Not just a last resort
Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise
Episode 7: Title talk
Episode 8: The Union Jack
Episode 9: Why Thursday?
Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?
Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!
Episode 13: Up in the Highlands
Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends
Episode 15: Pie in the sky
Episode 16: Through the tunnel
Episode 17: Keep left!
Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise
Episode 19: How do you say that?
Episode 20: Back to School!
Episode 21: Sweet cravings
Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?
Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"
Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)
Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?
Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.
Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!
Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot
Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?
Episode 30: Bless you!
Episode 31: What are you thankful for?
Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?
Episode 33: What's behind the door?
Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!
Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?
Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year
Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?
Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2
Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?
Episode 40: Sweet Valentine
Episode 41: A Reminder
Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!
Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils
Episode 44: The whole world's going green!
Episode 45: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs
Episode 46: The joke's on you!
Episode 47: Left over from the Middle Ages!
Episode 48: More calendar food-based ponderings
Episode 49: We use German words too
Episode 50: Celebrating St George
Episode 51: The perfect start to the day
Episode 52: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)
Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)
Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)
Episode 55: Holiday season is coming!
Episode 56; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1
Episode 56; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2
Episode 57: Summer Solstice
Episode 58: Harry Potter turns 20
Episode 59: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live
Episode 60: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
Episode 61: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Episode 62: Stick a stamp on it!
Episode 63: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge
Episode 64: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ
Episode 65: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)
Episode 66: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)
Episode 67: Joking around in Scotland
Episode 68: The first day of school
Episode 69: Let's go down to the Wiesn!
Episode 70: Celebrating language
Episode 71: It's a Harry thing!
Episode 72: My favourite time of the year
Episode 73: TED-Ideas Worth Spreading
Episode 74: Grinning like a Cheshire cat
Episode 75: Enjoying the downtime
Episode 76: Talking Tenners
Episode 77: Do you need anything from the Hight Street?
Episode 78: Just another few minutes!
Episode 79: Counting the cards on my shelf.
Episode 80: What sign are you?
Episode 81: Great if you have a sweet tooth
Episode 82: It's an acquired taste!
Episode 83: Quick Tip of the week - go/come & take/bring
Episode 84: My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose
Episode 85: Once in a blue moon
Episode 86: Learning by Listening - part 1
Episode 87: Learning by Listening - part 2
Episode 88: This is the travel news!
Episode 89: The "Beast from the East" hits Western Europe!
Episode 90: Spring forward and fall back
Episode 91: Holy Week