Session 1

At the weekend, in spring, on Saturday. Learning which preposition to use with which time expression can be difficult. But don't worry, all is explained in 6 Minute Vocabulary. And we have lots of activities to help you practise...

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Activity 1

6 Minute Vocabulary

In, at, on with time expressions

Neil is going to a wedding on Saturday, but Catherine likes to relax at the weekend. And what's Mike doing in the afternoon?

In 6 Minute Vocabulary we're looking at time expressions with the words in, at and on. Neil and Catherine are your guides - and they have lots of top tips to help you remember.

Sagalee kana dhaggeefadhuu shaakala kana xumuri

Barreeffama agarsiisi Barreeffama dhoksi

Neil   
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I'm Neil...

Catherine
A very smart Neil - and I'm Catherine. Why are you wearing a suit, Neil? You're looking very smart for work.

Neil
Yes you're right, I am wearing a suit because I'm going to a wedding at one o'clock!

Catherine
Very good! I love weddings.

Neil
I love weddings too. I'm going to another one on Saturday!

Catherine
Fantastic Neil. And at and on are two of the words we’re discussing in today's programme...

Neil
Yes, because we're talking about time expressions with in, on and at.

Catherine
We'll explain why we say at one o'clock but on Saturday.

Neil   
Yes, and we'll give you lots of examples.

Catherine
Let's start by listening to Mike and Rob. They are trying to find a time to meet up.

Neil
Think about this question while you listen: what time can Rob meet Mike?

INSERT

Mike
How about lunch on Monday, Rob?

Rob
Well... I've got a meeting at 11.30.

Mike
Ok, are you free on Tuesday?

Rob
Hmm... the engineer's coming at lunchtime. The washing machine's flooded again! It happened at Easter, too.

Mike
Well, what are you doing in the afternoon?

Rob
Sorry - I'm playing football.

Mike
Ok - perhaps we could meet in the pub on Saturday evening?

Rob
We've got guests at the weekend. How about this afternoon at two thirty?

Catherine
So, we asked you: What time can Rob meet Mike?

Neil
And the answer is: at two thirty.

Catherine
When we say a particular time on the clock, we use at.

Neil
So, we say at two thirty, at three o'clock.

Catherine
We also use at in other time expressions. Listen out for them in this clip. 

INSERT CLIP 1      

Mike
How about lunch on Monday, Rob?

Rob
Well… I've got a meeting at 11.30.

Mike
Ok, are you free on Tuesday?

Rob
Hmm… The engineer's coming at lunchtime. The washing machine's flooded again! It happened at Easter, too.

Catherine
So Rob had a meeting at 11.30. It's at because it’s a time.

Neil
That's right. We also heard at lunchtime. We use at with particular points during the day, like mealtimes, so it's at breakfast, at lunch, at dinner.

Catherine
…and also we say at noon, at midnight.

Neil
Now Rob said his washing machine flooded at Easter. We use at to talk about a special day or group of days. So, it’s at Easter, at New Year.

Catherine
At Christmas. So that's at. Let’s look at on. We use on with days of the week. So: on Monday, on Tuesday.

Neil
We also use on with specific dates: on the third of May, on June the 20th.

Catherine
…and we use on with specific days: on Christmas Day, on Easter Sunday, on my birthday!

Neil
That's right. But remember it's at Easter, at Christmas when we are referring to the general time period.

Catherine
Let's listen to another clip with more time expressions. Listen out for the time expression with in.

INSERT CLIP 2

Mike
What are you doing in the afternoon?

Rob
Sorry - I'm playing football.

Mike
Ok - perhaps we could meet in the pub on Saturday evening?

Rob
We've got guests at the weekend. How about this afternoon at two thirty?

Neil
So we had in the afternoon. We use in with parts of the day, so it's in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening.

Catherine
But did you notice that it's on Saturday evening. If we use a day of the week plus morning, afternoon or evening, we use on.

Neil
We also use in with seasons, so it's in spring, in the winter.

Catherine
We use in with months and years, so it's in June, in 1996.

Neil
Notice also that Rob said at the weekend.

Catherine
Rob speaks British English so he used at the weekend. Some other speakers will say on the weekend. It's perfectly fine.

IDENT          
6 Minute Vocabulary from the BBC.

Catherine
And we're talking about time expressions with in, on and at.

Neil
So, to recap, we use on with days of the week, dates and special days.

Catherine
We use at with times and particular points in the day.

Neil
British people say at the weekend.

Catherine
And we also say at with festivals.

Neil
We use in for seasons, months and years.

Catherine
And now for a quiz. Fill the gaps with in, on or at. Ready? Number one. What do you usually do [sfx: beep] the weekend?

Neil   
And the answer is at.

Catherine
Good. Number two. Don't be late! The film starts [sfx: beep] nine.

Neil   
And the answer is at.

Catherine     
And the last one. There are usually fireworks in London [sfx: beep] New Year's Eve.

Neil
And the answer is on. Well done if you got them all right.

Catherine
Now for today's top tip for learning vocabulary: Instead of learning individual new words, try learning small chunks of language like time phrases. They will be easier to learn and they make your English sound more natural.

Neil
There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both              
Bye!

Downloads

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 2 Downloads page. Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast version.

Next

So, do you think you know how to use in, at and on with time expressions now? Would you like a chance to demonstrate your ability? Well, try the activities on the next two pages.

Session Vocabulary

  • Time expressions with at

    • specific times - at one o’clock / at 2:30pm
    • points of the day - at noon / at midday / at night / at midnight
    • points of the day when things happen - at breakfast / at dinner / at lunchtime
    • festivals and special days - at Easter, at Eid
    • weekend - at the weekend

    Time expressions with on

    • specific dates - on 3rd May
    • specific days - on Christmas Day / on New Year's Eve
    • days of the week - on Monday / on Mondays

    Time expressions with in

    • parts of the day - in the morning / in the afternoon / in the evening
    • seasons - in spring / in summer / in autumn / in winter
    • years - in 1996