Prost! Cheers! Mazeltov! Salut! Zum Wohl! Raise you glasses as you made it through the week. On a Friday night at 9:00pm, you and your friends are celebrating over wine before riding in the night going home.
Wait a minute! In the night? Why not at night?
Very simple: When you ride home in the night, you are riding home in darkness at night, whereas at night itself focuses on the time during the 24-hour day where between 8:00pm and 12:00am, the moon shines its very best. An even better way to describe the difference is a song produced for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, describing the runner at night training in darkness in order to win the gold medal:
It is one of many deep secrets about the prepositions of time, using at, in and on. In each language, there is a different meaning of the three if we focus on the aspects of calendar, clock and the clicks of the timer. The best way to look at this is by looking at the picture below:
Without reading further, where would you place the three prepositions in the wine glass?
The reason for the wine glass concept is very simple. With a few exceptions, wine glasses have an half-oval shape as a way of measuring the amount of wine poured into the glass. That means as the wine glass is filled up, the amount of wine increases as the width of the glass widens. The narrower the glass, the less wine you have.
The wine glass represents the time frame where as the wine glass is filled to the top, the longer the given time period is allotted. That means at the bottom of the wine glass, where next to no drops are poured, that is where the preposition AT belongs to. AT here focuses on the exact time and moment of an event. Examples of how at is used is the following:
The train to Paris leaves at 7:45am from platform 5.
At Easter time, we have the egg hunt.
I’m not here at the moment
The Treaty of Armistice was signed at the 11th hour on November 11th.
It’s 11:00 at night. Do you know where your children are at?
When the wine glass is a third to a half full, then the width of the wine glass plus the amount of the wine is restricted. That is the same for the number of hours in a day, which is 24. Here, ON best fits the wine glass model for it is used to focus on a certain day or date, be it an exact date, holiday or even a day in the week, as seen in the examples below:
On Easter Sunday, we go to church.
I have an appointment on Monday.
She was born on 27 April, 1980.
When the wine glass is completely full, then so is the (sometimes) unlimited amount of wine, and in this case, time a person has. This is the meaning of IN in a sense of time. IN focuses on long periods of time. With the exception of certain periods in the day, like in the morning, afternoon and evening, IN has to do with long periods of time that is allowed to complete something. This can include months, weeks and years, but also seasons and other time periods where time keeps running whereever it wants to. Some examples of how the preposition IN can be used include:
In the spring, we plant our crops.
We have tea time in the afternoon.
Who is making noise in the middle of the night?
Our conference will take place in October.
World War II ended in 1945.
In the end, after reading the explanations, your wine glass in connection with time should look like this:
After looking at the review, do you have any questions? If not, let’s proceed to the exercises, shall we? 🙂
Activity 1. Complete the sentences using the correct preposition of time (at/in/on)
- The concert takes place _____ 5:00pm ______ Sunday at the Church
- ______ May, we will fly to Thailand for three weeks.
- It’s 11:30 ______ night. Do you know where your children are?
- _______ Tuesday we have our important town hall meeting. It starts ______ 10:00am and will last two hours.
- Sherry was born _______ 23rd of May, 1977 ______ 3:00am at the hospital in Dublin.
- World War I ended ________ 11th of November ________ the year 1918________ 11:11 am.
- The building will be finished ________ the spring.
- _______ Easter, we have a family gathering at my grandmother’s place.
- _______ New Year’s Day we will be at some friends‘ to celebrate.
- The Christmas market starts _______ 5:00pm _______ the evening, and ends _______10:00 ______ night.
Activity 2. Why do we say these things? Explain.
- Why do we say 9:00 at night instead of in the night?
- Why do we say in the morning instead of at the morning?
- Why do we say in March instead of on March?
- Why do we say on Monday instead of at Monday?
- Why do we say both on the weekend and at the weekend?
Activity 3. The following sentences are incorrect. Change them to make sure they are right.
- The Open Night of Science will start at 8:00pm in the night.
- Stacy was born in January 23rd, 1967.
- The TV-series made its debut on 1988 and was cancelled at 1991.
- The bus comes every morning at 7:30 to pick up the children.
- In the weekend, there is a choir concert at the city convention center.
- In the moment, I’m preparing the exams.
- The meeting will take place on 6:45am at Thursday the 14th of September.
- At the winter time, we go skiing in the Alps.
- In Christmas, we sing carols.
- In my birthday, we will celebrate it at my place.
Activity 4. Complete each phrase with at, in, or on.
- ______ Saturday
- ______the afternoon
- ______ noon
- ______ Thanksgiving
- ______ 4:00pm
- ______ 1300 hours (military time)
- ______ the fifth day of Christmas (song)
- ______ this time
- _______ the weekend
- ______ night
- ______ midnight
- ______ the wee hours of the morning
- ______ 2:30 ______ the morning
- _______ breakfast
- _______ the time of Lent
- _______ Friday night
- ______ Friday
- ______ this second
- ______ the class period
- ______ this day.