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Prepositions for Time

Relating "When"

 

 

In – On – At

IN ON AT

calendarUse in for larger periods of time.  (greater than a day)

day plannerUse on for smaller amount of time. (~ a day)

clockUse at for a precise time. (~ a moment)

MONTH DAY HOUR

in June

on March 1, 2009

 

at noon, midnight

YEAR / DECADE / CENTURY WEEKDAY TIME OF DAY

in 2005

in the 1990s

in the 18th century

in the Pleistocene Epoch

on Tuesday

at 3:00 a.m.

EXPRESSIONS EXPRESSIONS EXPRESSIONS

in a second
in a minute
in a while
in the morning
in the evening
in the afternoon
in time ("soon")
in the beginning of time
*once in a blue moon

on  the dot (exactly on time)
on  time
on  Sunday mornings (Mon. Tues., Wed., Thur., Fri., Sat.)
on  summer/ winter evenings
on  summer/ winter mornings
on a summer/ winter schedule
on Daylight Savings Time

at  the summer/ winter solstice
at high noon
at the drop of a hat (right away)
at a moment's notice (immediate)

 

 

 

 

 

 

By "x time"

Specifying an "end" time

 

 

 

IN, ON, AT

A specific time – not earlier or later. 

I had to be there at noon to catch the bus.  (exactly)

We arrived at their house on Wednesday evening. (exactly)

He reached Istanbul in June, 1906.  (exactly)

BY

A time before but not later than this time.  Use by to specify an "end"  or completion time.

I had to be there by noon to catch the bus. (no later)

We arrived at their house by Wednesday evening. (no later)

He reached Istanbul by June, 1906.  (no later)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Time

Having sufficient time

 

 

 

On time versus In time

ON TIME

On time specifies an exact time: "not before or later than this time".

Please get here on time for your meeting.

The plane departed on time.

We arrived on time to see the movie. (We saw the movie and the Previews.)
 

IN TIME

In time indicates a time before or slightly after the appointed time: "sufficient to do the intended activity"

Please get here in time to see him before he leaves.

We arrived just in time to catch the plane. (We were last to get on.)

We arrived in time to see the movie. (We missed the previews but saw the movie.)

 

sufficient (adj) – enough

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introductory Phrases

Emphasizing timing

 

 

 

EMPHASIS PLACEMENT

Often we move a time adverb (prepositional phrase ) to the front of the sentence to emphasize the time, or to use the time as a parallel lead-in (for two or more sentences.)

In the morning, I like to eat something that is light.

In the afternoon, I am ready for a big meal of meat or vegetables.

In the evening, I like to eat leftovers and then something sweet with a cup of tea.
 

NORMAL PLACEMENT

When the time adverb is moved after the verb, the phrase is in its normal, non-emphasis position.

I like to eat something that is light in the morning.

I am ready for a big meal of meat and vegetables In the afternoon.

I like to eat leftovers and then something sweet with a cup of tea In the evening.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

ERROR SOLUTION

We met for lunch in afternoon.

We met for lunch in the afternoon.

BUT: We met for lunch at noon (no article)

I'll see you in the night.

I'll see you tonight. ("this night")

BUT: I'll see you in the morning (article)

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Travel Times

wagon train
 

 

Read the Context

Traveling __ the 19th century was quite different from now.  __ the 1800s, people traveled by horse and carriage.  A hundred mile trip might be completed __ four to five days. A coach or a wagon could travel just three to four miles __ an hour. Wagons traveling the Oregon Trail made the trip __ four to five months. Coach or wagon travel usually had to stop __ sunset (dusk). Travel was difficult __ the early spring. Wagons had to cross snowy mountain passes __ the warmest time of the year.  A wagon had to reach its destination __ time to find shelter (protection from the weather). For travelers, the weather could turn bad __ the drop of a hat.

Nowadays, a person can travel hundreds of miles away__ just a couple hours. A person can leave New York __ 9:00 a.m. and be in London seven hours later __ 9:20 p.m. Weather affects travelers less— only __ the coldest winter months. Travelers expect their trains to leave __ the dot.  Perhaps travel in the future will take place __ a snap.

drop of a hat (expression) – a brief t moment

 

 

 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-10" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.
the warmest time of the year.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

"Night" expression

nighttime

 

 

Correct or Incorrect?

  1. Select a response correct or incorrect.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 11-20" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

16.
My flight leaves at six in the night.

     

17.
I like to go out at the night.

     

18.
It is cold here in the nighttime.

     

19.
The moon comes out at night.

     

20.
The full moon will be on Saturday night.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Early to bed, Early to Rise

Ben Franklin and daylight savings time
 

 

Read for Errors

Ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun. For example, Roman water clocks had different amounts of times for different months in the year. Rome's third hour from sunrise, hora tertia, started at 09:02 solar time and lasted 44 minutes in the winter solstice, but in the summer solstice started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes.  Unequal hours are still used in a few traditional settings, such as some Mount Athos monasteries in Greece.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin proposed taxing the use of shutters and candles, or ringing church bells to wake up lazy people who were sleeping late on the morning during the summertime. However, Benjamin Franklin did not propose adjusting the clocks because, like ancient Rome, 18th-century Europe did not keep precise schedules on that time.  Much later, communication networks required time standardization, and travel required people to be on time.

"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." — Benjamin Franklin

Then on 1895, George Hudson, from New Zealand, proposed Daylight Savings Time (DST) in a paper to a philosophical society. He argued that people could take better advantage of the daylight if they got up two hours earlier in summer mornings. On April, 17, 1916, Brandon, Manitoba became the first location in the world to use DST. Shortly after that, in April 1916, Germany and its World War I allies began DST as a way to conserve coal during wartime.  The Allies and the US adopted DST in the end of the war in 1918. Since then, the world has seen many adjustments to DST.

A move to "permanent daylight saving time" (staying in summer hours all year with no time shifts) is sometimes talked about.  In fact, the United Kingdom stayed on daylight saving time from 1968 to 1971.  However, quite a few countries have never used DST such as Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Venezuela.  Similarly, equatorial countries, like Ecuador, find no benefit to the time change as they have an equal number of daylight hours on summer and in winter.

adjust (v.) – change
propose (v.) – suggest something in an official way
solstice – either of the two times a year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 21-30" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

21.
Ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun. For example, Roman water clocks had different amounts of times for different months on the year.


22.
Rome's third hour from sunrise, hora tertia, started by modern standards at 09:02 solar time and lasted 44 minutes in the winter solstice, but in the summer solstice started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes.


23.
In 1784, Benjamin Franklin proposed taxing the use of shutters and candles, or ringing church bells to wake up lazy people who were sleeping late on the morning during the summertime.


24.
However, Benjamin Franklin did not propose adjusting the clocks because, like ancient Rome, 18th-century Europe did not keep precise schedules on that time.


25.
Much later, communication networks required time standardization, and travel required people to be in time.


26.
Then on 1895, George Hudson, from New Zealand, proposed Daylight Savings Time (DST) in a paper to a philosophical society.


27.
He argued that people could take better advantage of the daylight if they got up two hours earlier in summer mornings.


28.
At April, 17, 1916, Brandon, Manitoba became the first location in the world to use DST.


29.
Shortly after that, in April 1916, Germany and its World War I allies began DST as a way to conserve coal during wartime.


30.
The Allies and the US adopted DST in the end of the war in 1918.


31.
A move to "permanent daylight saving time" (staying in summer hours all year with no time shifts) is sometimes talked about.


32.
Similarly, equatorial countries, like Ecuador, find no benefit to the time change as they have an equal number of daylight hours on summer and in winter.