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I have had many a English student in Medellin ask me about the correct usage of the in, at, and on preposition in relation to time. Although it is challenging to master the use of the in, at, on preposition (even native speakers commit errors when using them) there are some basic rules to follow.

In at on – Prepositions of Time

Which is correct?

I was born in/at/on 1981.

Preposition in

“In” is used when talking about years.

I was born in 1981.  In what year where you born?

Now you write a sentence:


“In” is also used when talking about months.

In what month does Medellin celebrate La Feria de las Flores?

We drink Guaro, dance, and celebrate all year, but in August we celebrate La Feria de las Flores. (I love la Feria de las Flores.)

Write your sentence:


When talking about seasons.

I used to surf a lot in the summer when I lived in California, although we have a street named La Playa in Medellin, it is not the same.

Give me an example:


We also use “in” when talking about centuries.

In the late 19th century Pedro Justo Berrío helped transform Medellin into an economic and political power in Colombia.

Your turn:


“In” is used when talking about long periods of time.

Dinosaurs ruled the earth in the Jurassic era.

Now you try:


“In” is used to talk about a part of the day.

Do you like chunchurria?  Yes, I usually eat chunchurria in the morning, for breakfast.  (We say “in the morning,” “in the afternoon,” and “in the evening.” We do not say “in the night.”

Give it a go:


“In” is also used when talking about an amount of time that it will take for something to happen to be done.

We better hurry and get to the airport in Rio Negro because our flight leaves in an hour.

Give it a shot:


Preposition at

The use of “at” is generally easy to remember.

We use “at” when referring to an exact time.

I will pick you up for our date at 2:00 p.m.

I finished cleaning my house at 15 minutes past 3.

Give it a shot:


We also use “at” with time expressions.

We’ll talk about our relationship at lunchtime.

I plan to meet some friends at night.

I workout at noon.

We played basketball at dusk.

Sheryl had to wake up at dawn every weekday to go to work.

I had an argument with my wife at dinnertime.

He was willing to give her money at a drop of a hat, what a gueva.

Now you try:


Which is correct at or on?

I dance on/at the weekend.

They are both correct.  Many people from England say “at the weekend” and most people in the United States say “on the weekend.”  I am from California, so I always say “on the weekend,” but I completely understand when my British friends say, “at the weekend.”

Preposition “on”

“On” is used to indicate days.

I watched a movie on Sunday.

The last time I took a shower was on Friday.

She lost her cellphone on Tuesday.

Now you write a sentence:


We also use “on” when talking about complete dates.

I was born on January 3rd, 1981.

I graduated high school on June 22, 1999.

Now you try:


“On” is also used when talking about holidays.

We make sancocho on Christmas Day.

I party on New Years Eve.

Write a sentence:



This was a short lesson describing the general use of the prepositions in, at, and on.  By no means is this the end of your learning.  There are many expressions of time using these prepositions.  The best way to learn these propositions is by practicing.

If you are a serious English student then you should be watching T.V. in English, listening to music in English, your cellphone default language should be English, your facebook should be set to English, you should be doing everything possible to expose yourself to the language.

Being an English student in Medellin is not easy.  You speak Spanish all day, everyday, in your house, on the street, etc.  So it is up to you to grab the bull by the horns.

A real B2 level student will be able to hear a time expression/idiom and understand it based on context.  If you are not able to do this then you need to practice reading and listening more.

If you have any questions please ask in the comments below.

About the writer – Andrew Macia

Andrew Macia ArrieroHello, my name is Andrew Macia and I am the founder of the Medellin Buzz.  I am an advanced level English teacher here in Medellin, and I also have a website development, and marketing company which I run from home.

My idea with the Medellin Buzz is to push those who are learning English and to integrate native speakers with non-native speakers.

I love living in Medellin and I love Colombia.  I want to give back to the community and this is the best way I know how.  Let’s practice English and Spanish and have a great time!

About the Medellin Buzz

The Medellin Buzz is lighthearted resource for English as a Second Language learners in Medellin, Colombia.  The Medellin Buzz is written in a way that is easy to understand.  If you have questions feel free to write them in the comments below or contact me.