Prepositions of time – here’s a list of the time words that need ‘on’, ‘in’, ‘at’ and some that don’t need any preposition. Be careful – many students of English use ‘on’ with months (it should be ‘in’), or put a preposition before ‘next’ when we don’t need one.
|In||(year, month)||In 1989, in December|
|On||(day, date)||On monday, on Dec. 14, 2001|
|At||(time)||At 7:00, at 8:30|
|During||(decade, long time period)||During the 1960s, during the 20th Century|
Specific Time: “When?” (Use simple tenses.)
|When did you eat your breakfast?||I ate my breakfast at 9:00.|
|When were you born?||I was born in 1979.|
|When is your birthday party?||My birthday party is on Friday.|
|When will you graduate?||I wil graduate in June.|
Mr. Barnes is watching television now.
While he was watching television, the phone rang.
He will be watching television tonight when his wife gets home.
Duration: “How Long?”
|How long have you been in the U.S.?||I have been here since 1999/for two years.|
|How long were you in California?||I was in California for three weeks.|
|How long will you be in Maine?||I will be there for a month.|
I have finished my homework already. (before now)
After I had finished my homework, I started to cook dinner.
I will have finished my homework, when I start to cook dinner.
|In + (amount of time) usually refers to the future:||I will see you in two days (from now).|
|But it can also indicate a length of time:||I finished the job in two hours.|
Ago follows time word(s) and is used to indicate the amount of time before the present:
|I called her two weeks ago.||She returned my call five minutes ago.|
Words indicating actions occurring at the “same” time (or nearly the same time)
|When||When I was in high school, I had a car.|
|As soon as||As soon as I got to the theater, I looked for a seat.|
|Once||Once I finish my geometry, I will start studying chemistry.|
|The moment (that)||The moment (that) I saw her, I knew who she was.|
Words indicating actions occurring at “different” times
|Before||Before my husband left, I had already packed his bags.|
|After||After she eats her dinner, Ms. Warner will go shopping.|
|By the time||By the time I get to Denver, I will have traveled 200 miles.|
|Until||I cleaned the house until my wife came home.|