My English students often struggle with these tricky little words, particularly when it comes to prepositions of place and prepositions of time. Sometimes native speakers get them wrong too. I’ve searched through textbooks, unsuccessfully, looking for a simple, easy-to-remember rule.
Recently I found this great explanation in an online course (Writing 101X with EdX).
Prepositions of time: on, at, in and for
- We use ‚on‘ for specific days or dates
- The meeting is on Tuesday next week.
- My birthday is on Wednesday.
- Is your company working on Christmas Eve this year?
- ‚At‘ is used for specific times
- The guest speaker will arrive at 9:30 and leave at 10:15.
- The meeting starts at 14:30 on Friday.
- We use ‚in‘ to relate non-specific times
- Product sales doubled in 2013, but dropped in the first half of 2014.
- She was appointed CEO in 2009.
- ‚For‘ describes a continuous duration
- She will speak for 30 minutes and then take questions.
- The company has operated in this market for 7 years.
Prepositions of place: on, at and in
- The preposition ‚at‘ is used for specific addresses
- The meeting will be at our offices at Namesti Miru 15, Prague.
- ‚On‘ is used for names of streets, roads, etc.
- The office is on Northbourne Avenue, Canberra.
- We use ‚in‘ to designate general areas, such as suburbs, towns, and countries.
- The company operates in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Our head office is in London.