use at to specify a particular point in time. Both noon and
midnight are very short periods. When the clock strikes twelve,
it will be midnight. We would therefore say: at midnight or
at noon. Consider these further examples:
'We'll meet you in front of the cinema at a quarter
'I have to get up at six thirty on weekdays.'
'I like to spend some time with my family at Christmas
and at Easter.'
'What are you doing at the weekend?'
He was born at the end of the 19th Century and died
at the end of the 20th.'
Note that although both Christmas and Easter last for a few days,
we prefer to think of them as a particular point in time and therefore
use at when referring to them. 'At the weekend' follows
a similar pattern, though Americans would say 'on the weekend.'
with time phrases
you rightly say, Phoebe, we use in to specify periods of
time, parts of the day, morning, afternoon, evening, or for longer
periods altogether. Consider the following examples:
'My dad prefers to work in the morning. He's too tired
to work in the evening.'
'My granny always has a cup of tea at four o' clock in the
'I can't take my holiday in the summer, so I'll take
it sometime in the autumn.'
'Our first child was born in 1996, so he'll be five
years old in June.'
We also use in to describe how much time will pass before something
happens or to talk about how long something took or takes. Consider
'Do you mind waiting? I shall be ready in about ten
'If you order it now, you'll receive it in about two
'I can run one hundred metres in 12.5 seconds!'
with time phrases
use on, Marta, to refer to particular days and dates, even
repeated ones when plural forms are used. Consider the following:
'Could we meet on Sunday morning?' 'No, not on Sunday. I go to church
'Why don't we have the meeting sometime in the afternoon
on Thursday 5th April?'
'It's my birthday on 22nd April, so I'll ring
you on 23rd.'
Note that when we specify dates in writing, we will tend to write
them in one of the following styles:
part of letter heading)
29th December I'm leaving for Paris
the body of the letter)
when we are speaking those dates, we will normally insert the definite
article and the preposition of, as follows: I'm leaving for
Paris on the twenty ninth of December. I'm leaving for Paris on
December the twenty ninth.
preposition with time phrases
are not normally used with time phrases starting with next,
last, this, that, every, some,
all. Consider the following:
'Last year I made a cake for
Jenny's birthday, but this year I'm going to buy one.'
'Are you free
this morning? If not, I'll see you next week.'
'I'm at home all day
tomorrow, so come round (at) any time.'
Finally, note that prepositions are often omitted from time questions
starting with What...? or Which…? Look at the following
'What time are you leaving?' 'At eight o' clock.'
'Which days are you busy next week?' 'I'm busy on
Wednesday and Friday, but I'm free on Thursday.'