Where and when

When? AT is used for precise TIMES (hours and minutes)
  • I have a meeting at 5 p.m.
  • This train leaves from Sendai at 12:00 and arrives in Tokyo at 14:43.
It’s also used for special seasons of the year
  • at Christmas, at New Year (but ON Christmas Day, ON New Year’s Day)
Some other expressions with ‘at’
  • at the weekend
  • at the moment, at present
  • at the beginning/end of the week/holidays etc.
ON is used for DAYS
  • on Monday, on 1st January, on a weekday, on New Year’s Day
  • I usually play tennis on Tuesdays.
  • I was born on 15th June.
IN is usually used for LONGER PERIODS: months, years, decades and even centuries
  • in January, in (the) spring, in 1980, in the last few years, in the 1960s, in the 21st century
  • in the past, in the future
  • I like to go skiing in winter.
It’s also used in the expression ‘in the middle’
  • in the middle of the day/week/20th century, etc.
It’s used for most parts of the day
  • in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening (but AT night)
NO WORD is needed for RELATIVE times
  • now
  • today, yesterday, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day before yesterday
  • this week, next week, last week
  • this year, next year, last year
  • I have to hand in my report tomorrow.
Where? AT is used for precise DETAILS: address:
  • I live at 32, High Street
details of location:
  • The house is at the end of the street
  • My room is at the back/front of the house, at the top of the stairs
places of work, home, places to visit:
  • at work, school, university, home
  • at Tohoku University
  • at the cinema, at the zoo
  • I spent today at work.
  • I am a student at Tohoku University.
  • I am sitting at my desk.
ON is used when an object is ‘ON TOP OF‘ another
  • My apartment is on the third floor.
  • We all live on Earth.
  • Robinson Crusoe lived on a small island for several years.
  • The book is on the table.
It is also used for directions
  • on the right/left
IN is used when something is ‘INSIDE‘ a larger space
  • I live in Yagiyama, in Sendai, in Tohoku, in Japan, in Asia, in the northern hemisphere…
  • in space, in the desert, in the sea, in the house, in the lab
Also note the expression ‘in the middle’ NO WORD is needed for:
  • here
  • upstairs/downstairs
Test yourself: in, on, at or nothing?
  1. Please come to my office ___ 2 o’clock ___ tomorrow.
  2. I was born ___ August 1st.
  3. It snows a lot ___ northern Japan ___ winter.
  4. The head office of the bank is ___ no. 435, Aoba-dori Ichiban-cho.
  5. There is a pile of books ___ the desk.
  6. Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting is ___ the Louvre Museum ___ Paris.
  7. I was born ____ 1977, ____ February.
  8. I was born ____ 2nd April, 1982.
  9. Professor Tsuchida is giving a lecture ____ 5 p.m. ____ today.
  10. I live ____ a two-room apartment. It is ___ the fourth floor, ____ the front of the building, so I have a good view of the sea.
  11. Please wait for me ____ downstairs.
  12. I will visit my parents ____ New Year and we will have a special meal ___ New Year’s Day.
  13. I spend weekdays ____ work but I don’t work ____ Saturdays or Sundays.
  14. I am going to visit some friends ____ Nagoya ____ the weekend.
  15. I am planning to go to Tokyo ____ next week.
  16. Some time ____ the future, I would like to go to China.
  17. Yesterday I woke up ___ 5 o’clock ___ the morning.
  18. I have a meeting ___ 10 a.m. ___ Tuesday.
  19. Neil Armstrong walked ___ the moon ____ 1969.
  20. A visitor is coming to our company ____ tomorrow.
  21. Please come and sit ___ this desk ___ here. You can put your books ____ this shelf and your computer ____ the desk.
  22. My house is ___ the end of the street, ____ the right.
  23. Many technological changes occurred ____ the 20th century. ____ the UK, ____ the beginning of the century, many people did not travel very far. ____ now, most people have a car and ____ summer, many people spend time on holiday ____ foreign countries.
  24. I am very busy ___ the moment.

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