Prepositions can be one of the most frustrating parts of language learning. When students go to the movies, are they “in” the movies, or “at” the movies? This weekend, were you “on” Pacific Beach, “in” Pacific Beach, or “at” Pacific Beach? Many students believe that prepositions are something you have to memorize, but there are actually rules you can follow to help master prepositions. The following are some basic rules:

I. Prepositions used for a specific point in time (on, at, in)


“On” is used with days:

  • We always go to lunch together on Tuesdays.
  • She always walks her dog early in the morning on Sunday.
  • On Friday we are going to Dan and Cindy’s.
  • I’ll pick you up on Saturday morning.


“At” is used with certain times of day: noon, midnight, night, and a specific time.)

  • I went to bed at midnight last night.
  • She always gets hungry at night.
  • I’ll pick you up at 7.


“In” is used with all the other parts of the day, months, years, and seasons:

  • I usually get tired in the afternoon.
  • In June we always take a vacation.
  • I was born in 1992.
  • The flowers will bloom in spring.
Class starts AT 9 a.m. for CISL students. Break is FROM 10:40 TO 11:00. Class ends AT 12:40. DURING break, students often hang out in our lounge.

II. Prepositions used with longer periods of time (since, for, by, from-to, from-until, during, within)


“Since” is used from a point in the past until now.

  • I have lived here since 2010.
  • I have been a student since June.
  • I have been a CISL student since the fall.


“For” is used with a period of time, either in the past or in the present

  • I have lived here for two years.
  • I will be in California for two months.


“From” is used for the starting point and “to/until” are used for the end point

  • I lived in Italy from April until July.
  • I lived in Italy from April to July.
  • We celebrate the holiday season from Halloween to New Years Eve.


“During” is used for something that happens at the same time as another event

  • I fell asleep during the movie.
  • I ate a lot of popcorn during the movie.
  • During the fall I always eat a lot of apple pie.


“Within + date/period” is used something for that happens before another thing

  • Within the time I give you, you must finish your assignment.
  • I had to do my homework within an hour.
  • Within an hour, I will call you.

We will provide practice with these prepositions shortly, so check back on the Blog soon! Also make sure to check out the Blog later in the month for the second lesson on prepositions: prepositions regarding a place.

Happy November to our students!