Prepositions are notoriously difficult to learn. In most cases, you just have to remember them. However, when it comes to prepositions of time, there are actually some rules that can be followed to help you learn them.
In this article, I’m going to show you some common rules that will help you to use prepositions of time more accurately.
First, let’s think about something important:
What’s wrong with these sentences?
- I like to read books in night.
- My cat sleeps on the morning.
- We had to study during yesterday
Do you know the answer? The problem is that they all have incorrect prepositions of time. Here are the correct answers:
- I like to read books at night.
- My cat sleeps in the morning.
- We had to study yesterday
Rules for Prepositions of Time
We can say “at night” or “at the weekend.”
We can also use specific times: “at five o’clock” or “at six-thirty.”
We use this with days: “on Monday” or “on Friday.”
We can also be more specific, adding a time to the day: “on Wednesday morning” or “on Thursday evening.”
It also works with dates: “on 1st March” or “on 25th December.”
This is used for periods of the day: “in the morning” or “in the afternoon.”
It’s also used for months and seasons: “in winter” or “in summer,” “in January” or “in November.”
This is used for whole periods of time, and can be used for events and activities: “during the week” or “during the journey.”
Here’s a visual lesson that explains the different prepositions of time:
Correct the following sentences. (Answers are below.)
- I have trouble sleeping during night.
- We have a big family gather in Christmas Day.
- He starts work each day on 8am.
- My grandma has a nap on the afternoon.
- I got a sunburn at my holiday.
- The girl was born at the nineties.
Practical Use in IELTS
Of course, these skills can serve you well through the IELTS exam – especially for the speaking part! Even in part one of the speaking exam you have numerous opportunities to talk about time, and if you make mistakes here it can be detrimental to your band score. Make sure to practice often and regularly check that you know the rules for prepositions of time.
For further study, please read this guide to learning prepositions. For a more advanced lesson, see this guide to talking about historical periods.
- I have trouble sleeping at night.
- We have a big family gather on Christmas Day.
- He starts work each day at 8am.
- My grandma has a nap in the afternoon.
- I got a sunburn during my holiday.
- The girl was born in the nineties.