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Prepositions Of Time
(Happy Birthday, Mac!)

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It was Mac's birthday on Friday.

We use on when we talk about things happening on a certain day of the week or a specific date.

 

  • I went to the library on Monday.

  • On Saturday you watched a movie.

  • The exam is on the 21st of June.

  • The TV show starts on the 1st of July.

Rory, stop it!

I'm just testing it!

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We use in with months, years, seasons and general times of the day.

 

  • I start school in the morning.

  • Man walked on the moon in 1969.

  • The leaves turn yellow and red in the autumn.

  • My birthday is in May.

Can you come?  Yes...in the afternoon. It's a surprise. Don't tell him. OK!

Rory planned a party for him in the afternoon.

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Yeah...good. Where do you want me to put these toys?

We use while to describe something happening as something else is happening too.

        verb + whileverb

  • Rory fell asleep while he was watching TV.

Mum took Mac for a walk, while Rory got the house ready with his friend, Paul.

Does this look OK?

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They're here!

Hey guys, come on in!

We use before to describe something happening first, to be followed by something else.

 

  • I eat my sandwich before my apple.

  • He read the book before he saw the movie.

  • We're going to the park before we go home.

Mac’s friends arrived before Mum and Mac came home.

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Happy Birthday!

Surprise!

Here, when means just at that moment.

  • I eat my dinner when it's ready.

  • She goes skiing when it snows.

  • They left the party when the taxi came.

Mac got a shock when he came back.

Woof!

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They sure know how to party!

During is like while but we use it with a noun.

           while + verb

         during + noun

  • We didn't talk while we were watching the movie.

  • We didn't talk during the movie.

Rory and Paul took a break during "play time".

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We use at for something happening at a specific time.

  • School finishes at 3.30pm.

  • I have my dinner at 6.00pm.

  • She's coming at 4 o'clock.

Get off! Mac, help me!

At half past four, Rory brought out food.

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And then at quarter to five, he brought out the cake.

Ah Mac, you have to blow harder than that!

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Mac’s friends stayed until 7.00pm.

Bye! Thanks so much for coming!... Thank goodness! I thought they'd never leave!

Bye! Thanks a million!

We use until for things happening up to a certain time.

  • I waited until 2 o'clock.

  • He was there until morning.

  • She lived there until she was 10.

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After the party, Mac and Rory cleaned up.

How did you and your friends make so much mess?

Here are some more examples:

  • We went home after watching the movie.

  • They had ice cream after dinner. 

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In the evening, the two friends were completely exhausted!

  • to test something: to check something

  • to be shocked: to be surprised

  • to make a mess: to make something untidy

  • completely: totally

  • exhausted: really, really tired

  • autumn (UK English): fall (US English)

Glossary

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10 Questions Quiz

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